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After missing 14 games, Kia Vaughn is back dominating

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After missing 14 games because of a concussion, Kia Vaughn is back for the Washington Mystics, and proving she's a force to be dealt with.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Stars had won six straight at home, and were looking to make it a seventh straight as they stepped onto the court against the Washington Mystics.

For Kia Vaughn and the Mystics, however, they would not be denied on Friday; Vaughn scored all of her 15 points in the first half of what would become an 88-53 rout of the Stars on Friday night.

The Mystics had three players (including Vaughn) score in double figures, with the team's leading scorer, All-Star center Stefanie Dolson, scoring 14 points.The Stars were lead by leading scorers Sophia Young-Malcolm and Kayla McBride, who had 17 and 13 points respectively. None of the other Stars players had more than five points in the loss.

Stars head coach Dan Hughes was very blunt when it came to the assessment of his team' s performance.

"Not a lot went right. You’ve got to give partially the credit to them. I thought (Kia) Vaughn’s play in the first half kind of separated us off the bench," Hughes said. "It was a day where Washington did a lot of good things and the Stars struggled."

The first quarter of the game was tightly contested, with both teams almost scoring point for point. Young-Malcolm had 10 points for the Stars in the opening, with Ivory Latta coming off the bench for Washington to score two big three pointers.

In the second quarter, the game quickly became the Kia Vaughn show, as she scored nine of her 15 points (seven in a 59-second span)in the quarter for the Mystics. In comparison, the Stars only scored 11 points as a team the entire second quarter. Washington would go into halftime with a 49-25 lead, and they weren't done yet.

Dolson, who had a solid game herself, gave a lot of credit to Vaughn and the bench for the play.

"That is our biggest strength is our bench and just our whole team," Dolson said. "We have one of the deepest benches in the league because no matter who goes in, they can go in and score 15 in the first half like you said. And they couldn’t stop Kia, so we just kept going to her."

The Mystics came back into the game with a mean streak, outscoring the Stars 9-0 in the first two minutes before a Kayla McBride three-pointer finally put the Stars at 30 points. Emma Meesseman and Dolson would take over the game for the Mystics, trading baskets back and forth as they built a game-high 36-point lead with just minutes to go in the third.

The Stars would not get any closer than 30 points the rest of the game, as the Mystics bench played cleanup the rest of the way, coasting to a 35-point victory.

Mystics head coach Mike Thibault was thoroughly impressed with how his team performed offensively, crediting it to his team's versatility.

"We just really moved the ball exceptionally well. We have been the leading assist team, but tonight was as good as we have been this far. I think we have 30 assists on 36 baskets. So that’s kind of an unheard number," Thibault said.

"We are getting in a better rhythm, and part of it is we have a fully team and it really makes a difference. We can sub, and we have three or four people coming off of our bench who have started before. We are able to keep a pace going that we like right now. And when you get the ball in rhythm it make it easier to shoot the ball."

With the win, the Mystics have now won five straight; their longest winning streak in five years. The win also boosts their record to 11-6, a half-game behind the New York Liberty for best in the Eastern Conference. The Stars see their record fall to 6-13, with all six wins coming at home. They are 8 1/2 games back of the league's best team, the 14-4 Minnesota Lynx.