Posted on August 22, 2012 at 7:11 AM
Wednesday, Aug 22 at 11:18 AM
After winning their previous two games by an average of 26 points, the streaking Silver Stars appeared to be on the verge of blowing out the Washington Mystics when they led by 15 after three quarters Tuesday night.
But if the game was over, somebody to forgot to tell the gritty Mystics.
Washington made a ferocious run in the fourth quarter, but the Silver Stars scored just enough to maintain their lead and hang on for a 75-72 victory before a crowd of 5,913 at the AT&T Center.
The Silver Stars (16-5) have now won a franchise-record 12 consecutive games and are 14-1 since starting the season 2-4. San Antonio was the hottest team in the WNBA before the Olympic break and is 3-0 since resuming play.
The Silver Stars are No. 2 in the Western Conference standings, trailing Minnesota (18-4) by 1½ games.
Led by Crystal Langhorne and Jasmine Thomas, who scored 17 points each, the Mystics didn’t play like a 5-17 team.
"I have to compliment Washington," Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. "They just competed and they were physical and tough minded. They didn't go away. I mean we put them down 15 points and they kept coming back."
Hammon, Robinson made big shots
Becky Hammon led the Silver Stars with 22 points, hitting 8 of 13 shots, including 5 of 6 from beyond the 3-point line. Danielle Robinson and Sophia Young added 16 and 13 points, respectively, and Jayne Appel finished with a game-high 10 rebounds.
"They gave us a battle, so you have to give them credit," Hammon said. "Their bench came in and gave them a pretty good lift, but we are just happy to walk away with a win, especially back at home."
Robinson hit 7 of 12 field-goal attempts and knocked down shots when the Silver Stars needed them most. She made 6 of 8 shots in the second half, canning 3 of 4 in the third period and 3 of 4 in the fourth.
"Wasn't that amazing, from the standpoint of shot making?" Hughes said. "We moved the ball well, but if your strategy is to leave her open, she's evolving into an excellent mid-range shooter. Those were pressure shots.
"We moved the ball and got it right to her, but she still answered the call. She's growing up a little bit as a player. You can see the different facets. She's such a hard worker, so it's good to see the dividends."
Robinson, a second-year pro out of Oklahoma, made only 1 of 4 shots and had just two points in the first half. But she hung tough and helped turn back the Mystics' rally with her shooting in the second half.
"It's all about being confident," Robinson said. "You have to move on to the next shot. I knew that they were going to have to continue helping on Becky when she was doing the pick-and-roll, so I was staying ready."
Silver Stars shot 68.8 percent in third quarter
Ahead 59-44 after three quarters, San Antonio outscored the Mystics 26-12 in the period and led by as many as 17 points. But Washington turned the tables on the Silver Stars in the fourth quarter, outscoring them 28-16 and drawing to within five points (74-69) with 17.7 seconds left.
After Hammon hit one of two free throws to give the Silver Stars a six-point with 16.4 seconds remaining, Thomas drained a 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds for the last score of the night.
The Silver Stars led only 33-32 at halftime after hitting just 13 of 37 shots for 35.1 percent, but they got untracked in the third quarter. Led by Hammon, who had 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers, San Antonio made 11 of 16 field-goal attempts (68.8 percent) in the period.
"We had a hard time in the first half getting into transition," Hughes said. "The players did a good job in the third quarter with taking what we talked about and really taking it to the court.
"We were able to play out of our defense and we got a balance of our half-court and transition. I'm just pleased that they put that into action."
The Silver Stars started the second half of the season with an 89-79 victory at Tulsa last Friday night and rolled to an 89-47 rout at Phoenix on Sunday.
San Antonio plays at Los Angeles on Thursday night, and hosts Tulsa on Saturday night.
Hughes said the hard-fought victory against Washington is indicative of the challenge that lies ahead for the Silver Stars.
"It showed us what it's going to be like down the stretch with every single team we're going to play," he said. "It was good for us."