Breanna Stewart of the United States (right) tries to score against Jenna O’Hea of Australia during the championship game of the 2018 FIBA World Cup on Sept. 30 in Tenerife, Spain. (AP Photo/Andres Gutierrez)

Breanna Stewart of the United States (right) tries to score against Jenna O’Hea of Australia during the championship game of the 2018 FIBA World Cup on Sept. 30 in Tenerife, Spain. (AP Photo/Andres Gutierrez)

Stewart named USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year

The Seattle Storm standout wins the award for the third time.

By Percy Allen / The Seattle Times

After helping the USA Basketball Women’s World Cup Team to a gold medal and a perfect 6-0 record, Seattle Storm star Breanna Stewart was named the 2018 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year.

“Breanna has been an important part of our USA Basketball family for many years, and it was impressive this past September to watch her perform with such success at the World Cup,” said USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley. “We are very grateful for her loyalty and dedication, and we are proud to celebrate the tremendous year she had in 2018.”

USA Basketball has presented its Female Athlete of the Year award annually since 1980.

Stewart previously earned the distinction in 2011 and 2013. She joins Diana Taurasi (4), Teresa Edwards (4) and Lisa Leslie (3) as the only players to earn the USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year honor on at least three occasions.

“It’s really an honor,” Stewart said. “Each time that I’ve won has had its own special meaning, its own special place. This one is special, because I was in a different position than I was with the other ones. I was playing with a lot of younger players and had to perform really well and be at my best at the World Cup.”

Days after leading the Storm to a WNBA championship and winning the finals MVP award, Stewart started all six games for Team USA and averaged a team-leading 16.3 points per game to go along with 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

The 6-foot-4 forward shot 58.0 percent from the field and was named FIBA World Cup MVP and to the all-tournament team.

“Stewie played each and every game with all her heart,” Team USA coach Dawn Staley said. “She probably played more minutes than I should have given her, but she was that good. It was hard to keep her off the floor. What’s always telling about a player like Stewie is although she’s tired, she never asks to come out of a game.

“She always plays through things. She’s impactful on the floor. She is always sacrificing for the sake of the team. Even when she’s dog tired, she’s fighting through it.”

Among the 16-team field, Stewart ranked sixth in scoring and field goal percentage, eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (.471) and 14th in rebounding.

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