WASHINGTON, D.C. - As the Washington Mystics hosted Camp Day at Verizon Center on Wednesday afternoon, the team made sure to give the kids something to cheer about.
Emma Meesseman started off the fireworks with seven straight points, and the Washington Mystics (9-8) never looked back as they sent the San Antonio Stars (3-12) reeling, punching in an 84-67 victory.
The beginning of the game started off with San Antonio getting a quick two points from guard Monique Currie, who spent her first seven seasons in Washington before leaving after the 2014 season.
Meesseman then answered with seven straight points in less than a minute, giving the Mystics a 7-2 lead two minutes in. Natasha Cloud and Tayler Hill followed Meesseman with three 3-pointers between them, and Stefanie Dolson pitched in a floating jumper to cap off an 18-0 run for Washington.
San Antonio did not score again until the 4:26 mark in the first, when Dearica Hamby lofted a hook shot in the paint. However, the Stars didn't get much done in the first; Washington's defense held the Stars to a season-low seven points in the quarter.
Washington guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, who put in a stellar performance of her own, credited her team's hot start to an attention to focus.
"It's always in out game plan to come out focused and playing well but we just happened to be hot," Ruffin-Pratt said. "Things were going our way, shots were falling for us and we were getting stops on defense."
The second quarter fared a little better for San Antonio. Kayla Alexander and Alex Montgomery scored six early points for the Stars, but Washington refused to let them get a flow going. Two consecutive lay-ins by Ivory Latta and Kia Vaughn gave the Mystics a 21-point lead (32-11) only three minutes into the frame.
A Tianna Hawkins three-pointer with 4:52 remaining gave Washington a 27-point lead that nearly stuck until halftime. Kayla McBride, the league's seventh-leading scorer, scored her first four points of the game in the waning minutes of the first half, taking the Stars into halftime in a 50-27 deficit.
Washington head coach Mike Thibault praised his team's energy in a halftime interview.
"We had great energy at the start of the game," Thibault said. "I was preaching just play hard to start the game, and knock them on their heels a little bit. We did it the other night (a victory over the Minnesota Lynx, when they held Seimone Augustus scoreless for the first time in her career), and we did it again today."
Washington finished the first half 6-of-10 from the three-point line, while San Antonio had seven turnovers.
The Mystics came out the locker room swinging to start the third quarter, scoring a quick five points to put them up 55-27. San Antonio couldn't stop the hemorrhage of scoring from Washington, with Tierra Ruffin-Pratt putting in a jumper with 3:57 left to give the Mystics their largest lead of the game at 31 (64-33).
San Antonio quietly went on a 6-0 run, led by Alexander and Haley Peters, but it wasn't enough to get the Stars back into the game as they finished the third quarter down 71-43.
Washington seemed to get a little too comfortable at the start of the fourth, as San Antonio began to roll, going on a 16-4 run which cut the Mystics lead down to 16 (75-61). However, Washington was not about to let this game get away, as Ruffin-Pratt scored four of the Mystics' last nine points. A three-point play by Meesseman sealed the deal for Washington, who wrapped up their five-game homestand with a 4-1 record.
San Antonio head coach Dan Hughes wasn't too thrilled about his team's defensive performance, which saw the Stars down by 20 or more a majority of the game.
"I thought they (Washington) got out the gate well," Hughes said. "I thought they shot the ball well. We were a step behind the whole first half. Second hale, I thought we were much more in line with what we wanted to do, but the cushion in the first half was too much."
Stars forward Monique Currie, who started her career in her hometown of Washington, D.C., saw plenty of room for improvement.
"What didn't need to be fixed?" Currie said. "I think our defense wasn't good enough, our offense wasn't good enough, just everything was delayed and everybody was a step behind and it was obvious."
Washington had four players finish in double-figures in points, led by 14 apiece from Emma Meesseman and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt. Ivory Latta pitched in 12 points, while Natasha Cloud scored 11 for the Mystics, who went a perfect 15-of-15 from the free throw line.
Kayla Alexander led San Antonio in scoring with 12 points, while Haley Peters chipped in 11 off the bench. Kayla McBride, who came into the game averaging 18.6 points per game, was held to nine points for the Stars, who despite losing outrebounded the Mystics 39-27.
San Antonio heads to Indiana to face the Fever on Friday, while Washington starts a five-game road trip on the same day when they travel to Chicago to face the Sky.