San Antonio, TX -- San Antonio had to rally before Wednesday night's game against Washington, after it was announced Kayla McBride, who is the Stars leading scoring — averaging 17.1 points and 30 minutes per game — would be out the rest of the season, after sustaining a fracture in her right foot during the Stars' game against the Lynx on Saturday, July 2.
Stars head coach Dan Hughes, placed Alex Montgomery in the starting five to fill McBride's void. However, prior to the tip-off, Hughes said it was important for his team to find flow without McBride and called for his team to step up its game.
And that's just what the Stars did.
Although the majority of the game was neck-and-neck with the Stars holding the largest lead in the first half with five, San Antonio was able to find its rhythm in the fourth quarter. After both teams remained scoreless for 3:38 in the final quarter of the game, Monique Currie was able to sink two free-throws, which started an eight-point run for the Stars.
The Mystics were everything, but mystical in the fourth quarter missing seven straight baskets during their 5:43 scoring drought. The drought was ended after Tayler Hill, who led Washington with a team-high 14 points, rattled home a pair of free-throws.
Washington missed a three and transition and Stars center Jayne Appel-Marinelli, pulled down the defensive rebound, which added to her game-high 12 rebounds. Mystics, who were desperate to stay in the game, fouled in hopes to keep themselves alive. Washington sent Currie to the line, giving her the easy two points and adding to her game-high 20 points. Mystics trailed, 73-67.
Ivory Latta launched a three with 7.5 seconds remaining, cutting San Antonio's lead to five.
The Stars called a quick timeout to set themselves up for a front court inbound. After the toss-in, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt fouled out for the Mystics, sending Dearica Hamby to the line to seal San Antonio's 77-70 win.
Currie said tonight's performance symbolized the team's growth since the beginning of the season.
"It shows that we've figured out ways to not make so many mistakes down the stretch," said said. "We've taken care of the ball which I think was a big part of our win tonight."
Hamby, who some argue has flown under the radar this season, tied her season-high 18 points during tonight's performance. Hughes said she's all that and he doesn't think her talent is going unnoticed.
"[The ball] kind of found way to [Hamby], but she's another example of a young player that I think is growing," said Hughes. "She realized an opportunity when the ball found her more often and she did some things with it that was really fun to see."
Mystics Emma Meesseman, who typically averages 14.6 points per game and shoots over 50 percent from both the field and behind the arc, only scored 10 points — all of which were in the first half.
Meesseman started the Mystics off hot with a quick seven points, but was held scoreless the rest of the opening quarter. Hamby also scored seven points of her own, heading into the first media timeout.
Stars had the edge for the majority of the first half, but didn't lead by more than five points.
Both teams were tied at 20 heading into the second quarter, and had similar statistics during the first quarter. Both teams were shooting 47 percent from the field and had nine rebounds and one turnover apiece.
Washington gave away three quick turnovers in the first three minutes of the second quarter. Jazmon Gwathmey scored her first WNBA three to push the Stars ahead 25-22.
Later in the second quarter, Currie pulled down her own offensive rebound. She threw a quick spin move for a clutch two points. Meesseman responded with a three-point bucket, her final points of the night.
At the half, San Antonio led 38-37. The Stars were able to score nine points off of six Mystic turnovers, while Washington scored only two points off of San Antonio's three turnovers.
Out of the locker rooms, Natasha Cloud sank a clear three, giving Washington the lead, 45-42. But, San Antonio stayed with it. Moriah Jefferson, who was the third Stars player in double-digits, scoring 16 points — hit a jumper at the horn to put the Stars ahead, 58-53 heading into the fourth quarter.
"We just [weren't] locked in," said Hill. "I don't know how many stops we got tonight, maybe three overall? We got to do better on the defensive end. It starts with defense, and it was bad. We weren't focused."
Stars took the win on this game, after losing to Washington on June 29.
San Antonio won its fourth home game on the season. The Stars (5-13) will hope to continue its home game magic, when they host Seattle on Friday, July 8 at 9 p.m. ET.
After droppings, its first two games of its five-game road stint, Washington (9-10) will look to gain momentum against Los Angeles on Sunday, July 10 at 7 p.m. ET.