The San Antonio Stars try to model themselves after their ‘brother’ team, the Spurs. Head coach and general manager Dan Hughes has spent time with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and during the offseason, so did Becky Hammon. On Friday night fans noticed the many similarities between the two teams.
Danielle Robinson had 14 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as the Stars held off the Phoenix Mercury 78-74 in front of 9,171 fans inside U.S. Airways Center.
Robinson had key back-to-back baskets midway through the fourth quarter to put San Antonio up by ten points. However, Phoenix (2-1) would make a run to cut the deficit to just two points, but that’s as far as they would get.
”Huge win for us on the road,” Robinson said. ”We moved the ball really well and we knew we had to get on the block, especially after they made that run, we were taking a lot of outside shots. We knew we had to get the ball back on the block and get it moving from inside out.”
With Hammon slowly returning to form, Robinson has been given the point guard role by Hughes.
”Danielle Robinson, from our standpoint, we just love her development at the point,” Hughes said. ”We think she has become one of the better point guards in this league. It’s just fun to watch her develop year-to-year.”
Jia Perkins had back-to-back steals and finished with 13 points.
”Really happy to have her back on the court,” Robinson said of Hammon. ”But at the end of the day it’s going to be a team effort and people are going to have to step up.”
Phoenix was led by Diana Taurasi with 21 points on 8 of 14 shooting from the field and nine assists. DeWanna Bonner added 15 points and Brittney Griner chipped in 12 and nine rebounds for the Mercury, who dropped their first game of the season.
San Antonio outscored Phoenix 46-34 in the paint and scored 18 points off 16 Mercury turnovers.
”Those extra possessions really hurt you,” Phoenix head coach Sandy Brondello said. ”It’s been our Achilles’ heel in the three games, 16 turnovers. But if you have a turnover, you can deal with some of them. But the unforced ones, especially the ones where they get a layup down the other end, they’re the ones that can break your back. We have to get better in that regard.”
Bonner hit a 3-pointer to start a run for the Mercury and Erin Phillips hit a four-footer to cut the Stars lead to 76-74. Jayne Appel would ice the game with a pair of free throws with 5.3 seconds remaining in regulation.
”You knew they were going to make a run, offensively they are so challenging,” Hughes said. ”I was just pleased. Every run they made, we kind of had an answer to it. So we feel very fortunate.”
Phoenix shot 56 percent for the game, but missed 10 of their last 16 shots. San Antonio forward/center Danielle Adams says you have to credit the team defense.
”You just want to be aggressive every game, get the ball inside, driving, getting into the paint,” said Adams. ”We know they have a good player in Brittney Griner, we just wanted to attack and lift her up.”
The victory was very ‘Spur-like’ with solid ball movement, stellar defense, execution on both ends of the court. If San Antonio can keep up this level of play, the future looks bright in the Alamo City.
Hammon played her first game of the season after missing the first two with a left ankle sprain. The San Antonio guard finished with eight points and four assists in 23 minutes.
The Stars are now 2-1 on the season and will return to the court on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Los Angeles to face Candace Parker and the Sparks at 2:30 p.m. at Staples Center.