Silver Stars Chill Mercury on Historic Court

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

I'm new to this blog and this is my first game recap. Apologies for anything I don't do right.

Saturday night was an historic night for professional basketball. The San Antonio Silver Stars hosted the Phoenix Mercury for the first known professional basketball game played on a pink court in honor of Breast Health Awareness. In the spirit of the evening, the Silver Stars also donned pink jerseys and Danielle Robinson debuted a new, pinker look for her chameleon-like hair. Some of the players sported pink sneakers for the evening, with coach Dan Hughes getting in on the footwear trend as well.

Though the third place Phoenix team came in as the favorites to win, on this San Antonio night the Mercury would drop and the Stars would come out to shine. Brittney Griner treated the San Antonio crowd to some pre-game dunks and received a warm welcome in a regional homecoming, having grown up in Houston and played college ball at Baylor, but this night was to belong to the home team which earned an 88-82 win.

The injury-plagued Stars would come out strong in the first quarter while the Mercury started with a frigid 0-6 from the field. Just under halfway through the first quarter, Danielle Adams hit a three from bottom the Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon, just to the right of the center of the arch to go over 1,000 points for her career. Phoenix took an 11-9 lead on an Alexis Hornbuckle layup with 3:38 remaining.

However, just over a minute later, a Jia Perkins jumper from near the top of the key and three from the left wing sparked a 14-2 run for the Stars. Cathrine Kraayveld added a layup on an assist from Danielle Robinson. Diana Taurasi responded with a bunny from near the top of the key with 1:44 left in the quarter to bring Phoenix within three points at 16-13. Robinson blazed through the lane and got a layup on an assist from Appel who would then score on a layup from Shameka Christon with 9.9 left. Perkins’ full court defense forced a Hornbuckle travel in the backcourt giving the ball back to the Stars with 8.3 remaining. Shameka Christon would cap off the first period of play with a buzzer beating 3 on an assist from Davellyn Whyte making it 23-13 going into the second quarter.

San Antonio would continue to build their lead in the second quarter starting with two by Robinson. Charde Houston and Brittney Griner dropped in back to back jumpers, but a Danielle Adams triple on an assist from Whyte would quiet the short run. Johnson would score the next five on an assist from Christon for two and Whyte for three. Adams chalked up a couple more tipping in a Kayla Alexander misfire before Griner ended the Phoenix dry spell with a bunny shot.

Not to be outdone, Adams had a rebuttal of her own scoring in the paint on Christon’s third assist of the evening. Briana Gilbreath would continue the bucket trade on a DeWanna Bonner assist. Eventually a Lynetta Kizer foul would send Shenise Johnson to the charity stripe where she would pick up both freebies. The break would cue the debut of the newest Silver Star, Chelsea Poppens, recently signed in the wake of the Delisha Milton-Jones contract buyout.

Bonner’s second assist of the evening resulted in a Taurasi three but Christon would retaliate with a triple of her own on a Davellyn White assist. Taurasi continued a valiant effort with an assist to Kizer for two and with a transition three. Shenise Johnson assisted Danielle Adams for two, getting the hoop and the harm and going on to convert the shot for an old-fashioned three-point play. Taurasi picked up her fourth assist leading to a Krystal Thomas layup. Karma came quick as Taurasi received a dish from Candice Dupree and dropped in two. A Bonner layup with less than a minute left brought the Mercury within 10 and a Dupree jumper rolled around and in to trim the lead to eight. The half came to a close with the Stars leading 45-37.

Taurasi got the scoring started in the second half with a jumper in the paint but Jia Perkins soon responded with a bunny of her own. A foul called on Jayne Appel sent Brittney Griner to the foul line where she netted a single freebie of the two awarded and Candice Dupree hit a jumper on Taurasi’s 5th dime of the night, bringing the Mercury within five. Jumpers by Robinson and Johnson for San Antonio began a mini-bucket swap: a Bonner layup, a long two from Johnson, and Dupree layup. A Charde Houston foul sent Danielle Robinson to the line where she added two more followed by a right elbow jumper by Jia Perkins. A Robinson foul sent Taurasi to the line where she converted one of two. Robinson returned to the line, making both on a foul from Charde Houston that sent her to the ground hard. Time was stopped for a bleeding Danielle Adams between the free throws.

The score would stay at 59-47 in favor of the Stars until a Krystal Thomas assist set up Hornbuckle for a three ball to cut the lead to single digits. A foul called against Adams sent Taurasi to the line for two where she took full advantage. Danielle Robinson was issued two free throws on a Krystal Thomas foul that hooked her over the shoulder and neck. The crowd and Coach Dan Hughes argued for a flagrant but Thomas was only charged with a standard foul. The refs appeared to indicate to Hughes that they only saw the contact with the shoulder. D-Rob sank both.

Cathrine Kraayveld chimed in from the left wing on D-Rob’s 5th dime. An Appel steal lead to a role reversal by Robinson and Kraayveld. With the shot clock winding down and only a few second left in the quarter, a Kraayveld assist set up Robinson for an off-balance, heaving hook-shot to beat the 24 second clock, leaving just four seconds in the quarter. Phoenix was unable to close the quarter with a response and the score stood at 66-52 in favor of the Silver Stars.

The final 10 minutes saw Taurasi once again opening up the scoring, this time with a triple from the left corner that caught iron and bounced in. Jia Perkins hopped into double figures with a jumper from the deep right elbow area. Solid post defense in the low block by Jayne Appel left Griner nowhere to go but Appel ended up being charged with a foul under the basket, sending Griner to the line where she netted a pair. A Dupree assist from under the basket set the table for a DeWanna Bonner triple to bring Phoenix within single digits. A Dan Hughes time out led to a Jia Perkins retaliation three. Taurasi took advantage of the next possession with a bucket in the paint, but again Jia Perkins came back with a jumper off of a good move to create her own shot.

At 6:26 a Hornbuckle foul sent Perkins to the line where she split the pair. Charde Houston got a paint bucket to make it 74-62 in favor of the Stars but Shenise Johnson responded in kind 19 seconds later. With just under five minutes remaining in regulation, Adams got two more in the paint on a D-Rob assist and converted the and-1 on a Kizer foul. However, shortly after Charde Houston responded with a jumper in the paint and Shenise Johnson was called for the foul, allowing Houston to respond in kind with an and-1. 31 seconds later Houston hit a fadeaway jumper in the paint making it a 10 point game with just over four minutes remaining in regulation.

With 3:25 left Appel made a layup on which Thomas was charged with a foul and Appel was able to complete a three point play. Houston again took to the paint and converted an and-1 on a Johnson foul. With 2:08 left, Briana Gilbreath used a forearm to push off of Jia Perkins and instead of the offensive foul was awarded a trip to the line. The ball didn’t lie on the first, but the second fell. Twelve seconds later Gilbreath committed a foul that sent D-Rob to the deck, but fortunately this time Gilbreath was held accountable and Robinson was awarded two and got both to go.

With 1:40 left, Appel threw an errant pass as she fell to the ground trying to recover the miss by Griner, but Griner stole it and made a jumper in the paint to make it 84-75 with the Stars leading. Adams grabbed two more on an assist by D-Rob followed by Charde Houston converting another and-1 on a foul called against Shameka Christon. With just over 42 seconds remaining, Perkins was called for a foul that sent Hornbuckle to the line where she netted a couple, before which Jayne Appel became the second Star of the night to warrant a blood time out. With just over 15 seconds left Hornbuckle fouled Robinson and sent her to the stripe where she collected her 19th and 20th points on the night. A Brittney Griner shot from the paint went off the glass and in and closed the game at 6.9. D-Rob dribbled it out in the backcourt for the well-earned victory.

Diana Taurasi would finish leading all scores with 23 for Phoenix followed by the Danielle Duo Robinson and Adams, both dropping in 20 for the Stars followed by their team mate Jia Perkins with 17. Shenise Johnson and Charde Houston contributed 15 to San Antonio and Phoenix respectively. Britney Griner was held to 11 points on 4-11 from the field by the swarming Stars defense. Danielle Adams, Danielle Robinson, and Kayla Alexander all registered a block apiece for San Antonio as did Brittney Griner, Briana Gilbreath, and Lynette Kizer for Phoenix. Jayne Appel lead all rebounds with eight.

It was truly inspirational to see the players, coaches, and fans of all ages, female and male wearing pink for Breast Health Awareness. Just to be in attendance to see survivors and know many helped to paint the court was amazing and moving. The Stars victory on the historic pink floor was a great end to a fantastic evening of basketball and solidarity.

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