AT&T Center — The San Antonio Stars proved they have heart, but even heart was not enough to stop the best team in the league.
Jia Perkins had a season-high 24 points, including the game-tying three-pointer to force overtime. But it was not enough as the Stars suffered a 78-73 loss to the Phoenix Mercury in front of 7,022 fans inside the AT&T Center on Thursday night.
Danielle Adams and Danielle Robinson each added ten points for San Antonio, who fell to fourth place and are two games ahead of Tulsa (11-19) for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
San Antonio began the game cold offensively, shooting 25 percent in the first quarter. The Stars used a 15-4 run to take their first lead after trailing by as many as 14 points.
”Defensively, it was one of our better games,” Stars head coach Dan Hughes said. ”I thought our activity level was good. I think we tried to work on a couple of things that I saw play out in the game today. I think that’s important this time of year that our team defense gives us a chance, and it did.”
Phoenix was led by Candice Dupree who finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds. Penny Taylor had 16 points, DeWanna Bonner added 13 points and Brittney Griner chipped in 12 for Phoenix (25-4), who remain the 1 1/2 games ahead of the Minnesota Lynx for the top spot in the Western Conference.
”That’s what I said to my coaching staff, `This is not a bad game for us,”’ Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello said. ”Because, really, we haven’t had a lot of close games and it’s actually good preparation leading to the playoffs. Because that’s what playoff basketball is like – it’s a grind, it’s really physical. It was good preparation for us.”
San Antonio’s ‘magic number’ to clinch a playoff berth remains at two, which makes the four remaining games crucial.
“We have to contain the ball,” Stars guard Kayla McBride said of the team’s upcoming game against Tulsa. “We have to take the same intensity and aggression on defense and try to contain the offensive glass.”
The Stars are now 13-17 on the season and will return to the court tomorrow (Friday) night when they travel to Tulsa to take on Skylar Diggins and the Shock at 7 p.m. inside the BOK Center.