Mystics pound San Antonio

July 18, 2013 | Keith Henry

Coming off of a road trip split, the Washington Mystics looked to go over the .500 mark tonight against the San Antonio Silver Stars at the Verizon Center.

The Mystics defense spoke early, often and loud in their 86-64 smashing of San Antonio tonight.

Washington (8-7) shut down the Silver Stars defensively. In the fourth quarter, the Mystics didn’t allow a point the first six minutes of that frame. San Antonio shot just 12 of 35 in the second half. That included the dreadful fourth quarter in which the Silver Stars converted only five of 23 shots. Mystics head coach Mike Thibault said, “We got active. We got hands in the passing lane and forced turnovers. When we played them last week, they had about 20 points off of our turnovers. Tonight we got 21 points off of theirs. I think that was a huge difference.”

Silver Stars head coach Dan Hughes said, “I thought that they just outscored us. [We played] better in the first half than in the second. They had a nice combination [of making open shots and taking advantage of the defense].”

Everyone scored for the Mystics. But leading them was Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Crystal Langhorne who scored 13 points each followed by Nadirah McKenith with 11 points.

San Antonio (4-11)  was led by Jia Perkins and Shenise Johnson with 12 points each while former Mystic Delisha Milton-Jones followed up with 10.

The Mystics defeated San Antonio on the road 93-83 four days ago in Texas.

The Mystics got off to a great start in this game hitting their first few baskets and eventually building an 11-point lead. The Silver Stars rallied to within two possessions a couple of times in the first half.

At halftime, the Mystics were ahead 41-36.

In the second half, it got tight early. San Antonio withered the Mystics advantage down to 49-47 on Milton-Jones’ jump shot with 6:28 left in the third quarter.

But the Mystics started getting it going on both sides of the ball. Their defense was a major contributor not only to their 18-4 run. But to their morale as they didn’t allow San Antonioto score for a stretch of 9:26 in the game. That included the fourth quarter while Washington had shut down the Silver Stars for the first 6:03 of the stanza.

Milton-Jones said, “In the second half, it was more of what we were doing than what the Mystics were doing. Not to take anything away from their play tonight, but we made them look like a [great] team. They’re a team of great 1-on-1 players and we couldn’t keep them in front of us. We have to start games more aggressively and intensely, especially on the defensive end. We need to attack the basket, whether it’s a pass or a drive.”

Thibault said, “It was one of those good nights. It was good to catch a team on the end of a road trip. In the past this has been a tough team for the Mystics to play. The last time they beat them [at the Verizon Center] was in 2006. So this was a good win. I’m just happy that we’ve gotten everybody involved and we’re getting better. It’s going to get a little harder starting this weekend. We’re going to play some pretty good teams but so far, so good.”

Washington travels to Indiana to play the defending WNBA Champion Fever at Conseco Fieldhouse on Friday night.