Poor start hurts Stars at home in loss to Washington

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SAN ANTONIO, TX - JULY 25: Alex Montgomery #6 of the San Antonio Stars shoots the ball against the Washington Mystics on July 25, 2017 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Stars had a strong fourth quarter but it was not enough as they feel 85-76 to the Washington Mystics in front of 9,244 fans at the AT&T Center on Tuesday afternoon.

The result was not what San Antonio was hoping for to start off the second half of the season. Last Thursday, the Silver and Black put together their best performance of the season in a 85-61 blowout win over the Indiana Fever. In that game, the Stars out-assisted, out rebounded, and out played the Fever for all 40 minutes.

Tuesday was a much different story as San Antonio trailed 25-9 after the first quarter and never led in the game. Washington out rebounded the Stars 39-34, including 14 offensive rebounds. The Stars bigs had no answer for Elena Delle Donne, Emma Meesseman, and Krystal Thomas – who combined for 26 of the 39 total rebounds for Washington.

“They got a ton of offensive rebounds,” Stars guard Kelsey Plum said. “I think the percentage of scoring off of offensive rebounds on any team, but especially them, is over 60 percent. We just let them get too many easy baskets and they got comfortable.”

The loss saw San Antonio stay winless against Washington in two meetings this season. Overall, the Stars are 19-21 against the Mystics, including 8-11 at home. The teams meet for the final time next Friday at the AT&T Center.

The Stars were led by Dearica Hamby and Kelsey Plum’s 15 points. Kayla McBride returned after missing two games with an ankle injury and scored 12 for San Antonio, who shot 42 percent for the game. All 15 of Plum’s points came in the second half as she got more aggressive and slashed her way to the basket.

The No. 1 overall pick hit 2-of-3 three from beyond the arc and is looking more comfortable in the San Antonio offense with each passing game. Last Thursday, Plum had the best game of her young career with 16 points and seven assists.

San Antonio trailed 63-47 after the third quarter. The Stars outscored Washington 29-22 in the final 10 minutes to rally and cut the deficit to 76-70 in the final minutes. However, Washington hit free throws down the stretch to ice the game and any hopes of a Stars comeback.

“We are fighters. We’re not going to give up,” Stars head coach Vickie Johnson said. “It’s about us doing the little things; getting back into transition. How many baskets did they score on transition? How many free throws did we give up? How many free throws did we miss? It was all in our control.”

The Mystics were led by Elena Delle Donne’s game-high 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting. Emma Meesseman scored 16 for Washington (12-9), who are in first place in the Eastern Conference.

“To be on the road, it’s difficult to get wins so I am glad we came out with this one,” Delle Donne said. “I think there are things we can clean up, especially defensively, but still very happy with the focus we came out with after the break.”

  • Game notes: San Antonio’s 29 fourth quarter points are a season high. Previously, the Stars scored 27 points in a home loss to the Seattle Storm on June 6. Kelsey Plum’s 15 points led the team in scoring for the first time in her career. Kayla McBride scored 12 points and was in double figures in 14 of 16 games.

Up next: The Stars are now 3-19 on the season and will return to the court on Friday when they welcome the defending champion Los Angeles Sparks to the AT&T Center at 7 p.m.

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Stephen Anderson is a writer and editor for the Project Spurs Network. He joined the PS team back in 2014 as a staff writer with Project Spurs and has taken over as editor for network sites Stars Hoops, Rampage Central, and Red Black 90. Stephen graduated from the University of the Incarnate Word in 2017 with a degree in Communications Arts, specializing in Journalism and Public Relations. He is a credentialed media member for the San Antonio Stars, Rampage, and San Antonio FC.

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