The San Antonio Silver Stars wheeled into the Wednesday night in Indianapolis riding the momentum from a win against a 3rd place Western Conference rival Phoenix Mercury Saturday night. It would be a different story in Indiana though as the injury plagued Stars would play the second half without the league’s assist leader, Danielle Robinson, who went down with what was reported as a knee injury by Indiana’s home broadcast. The Stars kept their deficit around 10 or less for much of the game, but the D-Rob-less nine player rotation would fall to the defending Champs by 17 with a final score of 80 to 63. (http://www.wnba.com/games/20130821/SANIND/gameinfo.html)
When the Green Flag dropped in Indy it was Jia Perkins revving up and pulling ahead with a three pointer off an assist from Jayne Appel on a possession that started with Appel stealing a pass attempt from Briann January. The Fever would kick their scoring off with an offensive board and the put back by Erlana Larkins on a Karima Christmas misfire from downtown. On the next possession, Jia Perkins in the paint near the left block found a cutting Jayne Appel who kicked it out to Danielle Adams for a fadeaway baseline J. Briann January brought the ball up and started cutting towards the basket but was met by Perkins who stripped the ball away, chalking up a steal. Danielle Adams came up with it and gave to Danielle Robinson in transition who wasted no time and dropped in a pull-up, jumper from the right edge of the foul line.
Christmas came early for Catchings and the Fever as Indiana immediately responded as Karima Christmas gifted Catchings an alley oop pass for a lay in. Catchings would score again shortly after Shavonte Zellous rebounded a Jia Perkins miss from the right block. San Antonio stopped the small run with a Shenise Johnson assist to Danielle Adams for 2 on a lay up at 6:46. That would stop all scoring until 5:09 when a Danielle Adams foul sent Erlana Larkins to the foul line where she collected a pair, making it 9-8 in favor of San Antonio. Of note during the break in scoring was an emphatic block of a Briann January shot in the paint by Danielle Adams with Jayne Appel gathering in the rebound.
At 3:56 another Danielle Adams foul sent Tamika Catchings to the line where she netted a pair, giving Indiana the lead for the first time at 10-9. San Antonio responded quickly as Jayne Appel, near the top of the key, spotted D-Rob cutting to the basket and dropped the dime for a Robinson layup. Robinson would foul at the other end and send Christmas to the stripe where she got a pair. The Fever started building on their lead with a Larkins layup on an assist from Erin Phillips that preceded a San Antonio time out. A Cathrine Kraayeveld miscue from downtown became a Jessica Breland rebound. Breland passed the ball along to Layshia Clarendon who found Phillips in transition on the right wing for a 3. Breland would then grab another rebound, again giving it to Clarendon who sent it to Christmas who found Breland in the low post near the charge circle for some post moves and the bucket. Jayne Appel closed out the scoring for the first period of play at 13-19 in favor of Indiana when she converted a couple of freebies following an Erin Phillips foul in the paint. San Antonio defense and an Indiana attempt that caught glass but no iron resulted in a shot clock violation with 2.1 left giving San Antonio enough time for a quarter ending heave.
Jessica Breland got the first points in the second period of play in the key on the second assist of the night by Larkins. The Silver Stars were quick to retaliate though, as D-Rob found Davellyn White way across court for a triple from the left side. Shameka Christon slapped away a ball that bounced off of Shavonte Zellous, giving the Silver Stars the ball. Meka then located Kayla Alexander in the lane, gaining an assist with Kayla drawing the foul and bringing the Stars back within 3 but failing to complete the three-point play. The next change in score came when Clarendon assisted Breland on a jumper from the deep end of mid-range on the left side. Just over a minute later, Zellous found a wide open Tamika Catchings on the right wing for the long distance jumper before San Antonio called for time.
Jia Perkins got things rolling out of the time out with a mid-range jumper from the left side near the perimeter, assisted by DA to make it 20-26, Fever favor. Just on the high side of the halfway mark Tamika Catchings cut to the basket for a layup that put her in double digits for the evening. The scoring would subside for just over a minute and a half before a DA contact infraction sent January to the charity stripe where she was able to take 1 of the 2.
Chelsea Poppens, who replaced DA, was called for a foul shortly after checking in which sent Catchings to the line for the Fever where she netted a pair, pushing the lead into double digits with 3:21 left in the half. Poppens would get to the line less than a minute later for two shots where the newest Star chalked 1 up for her first WNBA career point. Indiana didn’t wait long to respond as January dropped one in from the deep right side for 3 aided by the second assist of the night for Shavonte Zellous bringing the tally to 34-21 with the team from Indy leading the race.
Jayne Appel’s 4th dime of the night would set things up for a cutting D-Rob for the lay up. The Fever had a rebuttal though as Catchings picked up a deuce in the paint on the third assist of the evening for Larkins. With 33.9 left, Shavonte Zellous was awarded a trip to the line where she picked up the twins after Poppens was whistled for her second foul of the evening. As the final seconds of the half ticked away, Danielle Robinson slid into a splits just before Jayne Appel drained a midrange jumper out near the perimeter on the left side. Erlana Larkins stopped and appeared to try to help D-Rob up but then continued down court and Robinson stayed down. Jeanette Pohlen drained the jumper with 0.5 left on the clock to cap off scoring for the half with a score of 41-25 Fever. The start of half time saw Robinson surrounded by Stars personnel and players from both teams.
San Antonio came out to start the second half with Robinson in the locker room. She would not check in again for the rest of the night. Davellyn Whyte initiate the scoring for the quarter with a 3 ball from the right side off of an assist by Shenise Johnson. San Antonio put two more on the board when a Tamika Catchings foul sent DA to the stripe. Shavonte Zellous put an end to the short run though, driving to the hoop and getting the layup for Indiana. DA made her way back to the free throw line after being fouled by Larkins on a fadeaway jumper with the shot clock winding down. Christmas and Whyte would also take trips to line and take one apiece for Indiana and San Antonio respectively beginning a small run for the Silver Stars with DA going on to pick up 2 in the paint. Jia Perkins went to quick work on defense, stealing the inbound pass and assisting Davellyn Whyte on the left wing who splashed her 3rd triple of the night, driving her scoring contribution into double digits. Seeing the Stars gaining in the straightaway, their 16 point half time lead shrinking to 7 at 37-44, prompted a Fever pit stop to talk things over.
January’s first shot out of the time out was shy of falling but she got her own rebound and kicked it out to Erin Phillips. She would reset, drive, and kick it to January on the left wing. January then drove to the paint and spotted Clarendon on the far right wing and assist her for 3. As that play was developing, at around 5:30, the commentator on Indiana’s broadcast announced that Danielle Robinson was on the Silver Stars bench in warm-up attire and shortly after added that it was a right knee injury, extent unknown. Jayne Appel went to the line and sent 1 of 2 through the iron. San Antonio would score again when Shenise Johnson found a wide open Adams in the paint below the right block to cut the lead to 7 again at 47-40. Appel was whistled for her second foul of the night on what appeared to be a clean block, sending Catchings to the line where she added two points. Shenise Johnson absconded with a Shavonte Zellous pass and was headed for the hoop and was intentionally fouled by Zellous to prevent a possible easy 2 in transition, forcing Johnson to earn her tally marks from the stripe, which she succeeded in doing. Shavonte Zellous more than made up for the turnover leading to the freebie though, scoring the next 5 points for the fever on a pair of paint buckets, one of them an and-1. Jayne Appel would register the next 4 for the Silver Stars putting back a missed 3 attempt and receiving the dish from Shameka Christon for an easy couple in the key. Christon was called for a foul that put Clarendon on the stripe where she missed the first and hit the second. Clarendon fouled Christon with 7 seconds left, sending her to shoot two and she dropped both through the hoop. On the other end, Clarendon found Phillips in the right corner whose shot beat the buzzer and rattled around the rim and in with no time left in the quarter. Despite missing D-Rob for the entire 3rd period, the Stars finished the 3rd quarter trailing by only 7 with a score of 48-55
Shavonte Zellous would collect the initial 2 ticks on the scoreboard in the final period putting her into double digits on the evening at 11, but Danielle Adams responded with a low deuce on Christon’s third dime of the evening. Shavonte Zellous wasn’t done scoring for the evening. She earned a chance at two from the stripe on a fouled called on Jia Perkins in the restricted area. Zellous took the pair and extended the lead to 12. Jia would then drop in a long ball from right of the top of the arch on a Kayla Alexander dime and then pick up a pair on 10 more cents worth, this time coming from Whyte, #7 cutting the lead to 7 from 12 in 18 seconds. Catchings dropped in two more free throws and then grabbed a Phillips misfire from deep just to the right of the hoop and, under defensive pressure from Kayla Alexander, offered it over to Larkins just to the left of the rack for 2. The Silver Stars would come out of a time out called by Coach Dan Hughes with a pair in the paint on a stick back by Danielle Adams. Assists from Larkins and January set up Shavonte Zellous for Indiana’s next two buckets, both in the paint, the second in transition. Jia Perkins created her own shot off the dribble, starting at the perimeter and moving in, sinking a jumper from the left side.
Shavonte Zellous wasn’t done for the night just yet. Assist number 4 on the evening for January resulted in a triple for Zellous, giving her 20 for the night which would lead all scoring. January extended the lead to 18 with a pair of layups, the second assisted by Clarendon making 4 dimes for her on the evening as well. Danielle Adams contributed two more freebies to the San Antonio cause and Chelsea Poppens would drop in two more thanks to a Davellyn Whyte dime capping off the San Antonio scoring for the night. Sasha Goodlett would close out scoring for Indiana getting an old fashioned three point play in the home stretch for the Fever. When the checkered flag waved in Indy, it was over a tough 63-80 loss with a final score that wasn’t really indicative of the tight game that was played. Despite a roster that has already been plagued by injuries, the Stars hung with the defending Champs despite playing the second half without D-Rob.
Standouts, Wrap Up, and Thoughts Moving Forward
Three Silver Stars and two Fever players scored in double digits. Danielle Adams lead the Silver Stars with 17 followed by Jia Perkins with 12 and rookie Davellyn White with 10 including 3 of 4 from beyond the perimeter. Shavonte Zellous would finish leading all scores with 20 followed by her team mate Tamika Catchings with 19 for the Fever. Jayne Appel registered two blocks for San Antonio followed by Danielle Robinson, Danielle Adams, and first year player Kayla Alexander with a denial apiece.
Tamika Catchings and Jessica Breland each chalked up a pair of blocks and Shavonte Zellous added one as well. Danielle Adams led all rebounding with 9 followed by Jayne Appel with 7 and Jia Perkins with 5 for San Antonio. Larkins and Catchings pulled down 7 boards each for Indiana and Breland totaled 5. Jayne Appel led all theft with 3 steals. Turnovers and Free Throws told the tale of the night with San Antonio surrendering the ball 8 more times than Indiana with a total of 21 giveaways and connecting on only 14-19 from line compared to 21-24 for the Fever.
San Antonio looks to right the ship on Friday in Tulsa against the 8-18 Shock who now sit a game and a half behind San Antonio in the West. Tulsa will enter Friday night’s matchup on the heels of a home loss to the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday night. Following Tulsa the Stars will head home to San Antonio where they look to take 2 games at home from the visiting Seattle Storm, the team they are currently battling for playoff position in the West. Let’s all hope for a speedy recover to the speediest player in the league, Danielle Robinson, as we all hope to see her healthy and back on the court as soon as possible. Best wishes go out to her.