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Mystics at Stars final score: Washington upset by San Antonio, 76-74

Stewart W. Small

The Mystics lost to the San Antonio Stars on Friday, 76-74. Though the Mystics led by as many as eight points early in the game, San Antonio went on a 12-0 run in the second quarter when they took the lead and shifted momentum their way for the rest of the game. The Mystics did regain the lead at points during the second half, they never took full control of the game. Part of the reason why was because they were missing three players due to injuries: Elena Delle Donne (thumb), Tayler Hill (knee), and Natasha Cloud (foot).

For the Mystics, the Emma Meesseman and Kristi Toliver duo continued to deliver statistically. Meesseman scored 15 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, and dished 6 assists, while Kristi Toliver led Washington’s scorers with 18 points and dished 6 more assists. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt also added 17 points on a 8 of 13 shooting night, while Krystal Thomas grabbed 20 rebounds. For the Stars, Kelsey Plum led the way with a career high 12 assists and 9 points, while ISabelle Harrison scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Here are some of the takeaways for the night.

San Antonio is not a pushover

The Stars are last place in the WNBA with a now 5-21 record. However, they’ve won two games in a row after beating the Liberty last Tuesday, 93-81 and holding on to beat Washington tonight.

I get that the Stars have been the polar opposite of their NBA counterpart, the Spurs from a win and loss standpoint. But San Antonio has stockpiled a lot of young talent in the last few years and we’re starting to see their core players get into their own.

Isabelle Harrison was a seldom used rookie for the Mercury last season, but she started nearly every game this season for the Stars. Tonight, she was sensational with her 20 point, 10 rebound performance. Rookie forward Nia Coffey hasn’t played too much so far this season, but she also made an impact on both ends for San Antonio in the second quarter when they took control of the game. And Kelsey Plum, the first pick of the 2017 WNBA Draft put on a show as a passer. Yes, she’s better known for her scoring ability in college, but her 12 assists tonight show that she’s far from a “one trick pony.”

I can go on and talk about how Kayla McBride has continued to develop over her four year career (she’s still on her rookie contract), and Moriah Jefferson as well. But the bottom line is that the Stars look a lot like the Mystics a couple years ago or so. The Stars won’t make the playoffs this year, but it shouldn’t be too long until they’re a perennial playoff contender once again as the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks’ rosters fall out of their prime.

Thank God for Krystal Thomas

One of the goals of this season is for players to rebound the basketball more. The Mystics outrebounded the Stars, 38-36 tonight thanks to Thomas’ 20 rebound performance. That is nothing short of amazing!

The Mystics need to work on their late game strategy

Washington had a chance to tie or win this game late. However, we saw Ruffin-Pratt attempt and miss a driving layup with nine seconds left when Washington had the opportunity to hold the ball until the end of regulation. In these types of situations, it’s better to see Meesseman or Toliver shoot the ball deeper into the shot clock.

Next Game

The Mystics take on the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET at Verizon Center. The Mercury’s only one game behind the Mystics for fourth place in the standings. Therefore, this contest has significant impact on whether Washington can get a first round bye or not.