SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Stars used a late fourth quarter rally to defeat the Washington Mystics 76-74 in front of 4,955 fans at the AT&T Center on Friday night.
The victory was a yet another stepping stone for a young Stars team, who has improved since the beginning of the season, despite their poor record. Stars coach Vickie Johnson has talked about ‘the process’ and if the past two games over four days are any proof, the process she is talking about is paying off.
In Tuesday’s win over New York, Kayla McBride had a career-high 31 points. More importantly, they took care of the ball and played hard-nosed defense to grab the win. On Friday, the Stars forced Washington into two consecutive shot clock violations. These minor details were not present going back to the beginning of season, but its all about learning.
“For us it’s about getting better because New York was our first game of the season,” Johnson said. “Washington was our second game of the season. We lost the games by 16 and 15 points. Now to have the opportunity to play both of them with our whole team, that is a little bit more mature, is very rewarding.”
Isabelle Harrison led the Stars in scoring with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Both Kayla’s Alexander and McBride each added 12. Alex Montgomery chipped in 12 for San Antonio, who won their second straight.
Kelsey Plum had the best game of her rookie campaign with 9 points and a career-high 12 assists. Plum and Alexander connected six times throughout the game, including on three straight possessions in the fourth quarter.
“She was clutch,” Plum said of Alexander. “The posts on Washington would either ice or really heavily rotate, and she has a little sweet spot in mid-range and she did a great job at knocking them down. I don’t know how many points she had, but she had a lot of clutch baskets along with Izzy [Isabelle Harrison] as well, it was huge.”
With the Stars leading by two, Washington had one final attempt to tie the game. Dearica Hamby was at the basket to deny Emma Meeseman’s attempt, leaving San Antonio to dribble out the clock on their fifth win of the season.
Kristi Toliver led the Mystics with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt added 17 and Meeseman chipped in 15 for Washington (14-10), who played without star forward Elena Delle Donne.
Washington committed 11 turnovers in the game and scored just 15 points in the final quarter. The Stars outscored the Mystics 21-13 in the second quarter and 19-15 in the fourth.
“We didn’t score well except for in the first quarter. You have to make baskets. It’s difficult,” Washington coach Mike Thibault said. They outplayed us when it counted. Harrison and Kayla Alexander, the 32 points and 16 rebounds [combined] was probably a huge difference.”
- Game notes: Kelsey Plum’s 12 assists are the most by a WNBA rookie this season and the highest by a Stars player in two years. Danielle Robinson dished out 12 against Phoenix in 2015. San Antonio won their second straight home game for the first time since July 2015.
Up next: The Stars are now 5-21 on the season and will return to the court Saturday night for a rare home-and-home back to back against Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm at 7 p.m. at the AT&T Center.