SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Stars put together their best performance of the season to defeat the Indiana Fever 85-61, in front of an announced crowd of 7,306 fans at the AT&T Center on Thursday night.
The result was much needed for the young San Antonio squad, who had failed to play a full 40 minutes of basketball all season. San Antonio opened the game with a 25-12 first quarter and led by as many as 32 points. As teams get ready for the second half of the season following the All-Star break, there is no doubt the Stars will use this game as a example for how to play the remainder of the season.
San Antonio played without Kayla McBride for the second straight game (ankle), but is expected to have her back some time next week. Despite not having their leading scorer, the Stars shot 60 percent from the field for the game and held Indiana to a 25 percent shooting first quarter.
“I can say we actually came out ready to play and we played for 40 minutes,” Stars head coach Vickie Johnson said. “We played every possession. Everybody that was in the game was very productive and that’s what I want to see from each one of our players on the team. The defensive side of the ball, we did excellent.”
Isabelle Harrison led the way for the Stars with 18 points and nine rebounds in 23 minutes. Kelsey Plum had the best game of her rookie season with a career-high 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting, while dishing out six assists. The Washington University product scored 10 of her 18 in the second half and is becoming more comfortable in the San Antonio offense.
“It felt like it is about time,” Plum said about her career night. “I think that I have been a little hard on myself, with everything that is going on, but I think you just have to keep pushing. I am just going to continue to get better, and my teammates are really supportive.”
Moriah Jefferson finished with 11 points to go along with eight assists. The second year guard has been dealing with a knee injury all season, but showed flashes of her ‘old’ self in the process. She fooled Indiana guard Briann January with a dead-spot spin move and connected on a contested fade away 3-pointer as the shot clock expired.
The real story for the Stars was their bench play. San Antonio got 30 points off their bench, including eight apiece from Dearica Hamby, Kayla Alexander, and Sequoia Holmes. Every player that was active apart from Shay Murphy got into the scoring column, providing another stepping stone for the Silver and Black for the second half of the season.
San Antonio began the game on an 11-2 run, sparked by the play of Jefferson and Plum, who combined for 27 points and 14 assists on the night.
“I think we just started off really aggressive,” Jefferson said after the game. “We did the same thing last game, but we had a huge mental breakdown. I think we wanted to start the same way we did, and then sustain the lead.”
Tiffany Mitchell led the way for the Fever with 13 points, making her the only Indiana player in double figures. Indiana (8-13) shot 34 percent for the game and never led in the 40 minutes of regulation play. San Antonio built their lead to 32 in the third quarter as the Fever called timeout after timeout to stop the bleeding.
“We have a lot to improve on, that’s what we’re going to do,” Mitchell said. “Like I said, we’re going to regroup and get back to the drawing board and start from there.”
- Game notes: San Antonio’s 24 point win was their largest margin of victory in three years since a 101-74 win over the Los Angeles Sparks. The Stars’ 32-point lead was their biggest since September 2013 when they led by 37 points in a win over the Atlanta Dream.
Up next: The Stars are now 3-18 on the season and will return to the court on Tuesday when they open the second half of the season against the Washington Mystics at the AT&T Center at 11:30 a.m.