Mystics fall 75-72 to the Silver Stars

Mystics fall 75-72 to the Silver Stars

Becky Hammon scored 22 points to lead the San Antonio Silver Stars to their 12th straight victory, 75-72 against the Washington Mystics on Tuesday night. Danielle Robinson added 16 points and Sophia Young 13 for the Silver Stars (16-5). Coming off their largest margin of victory of the season -- 42 points Sunday at Phoenix -- the Silver Stars had to fend off a late rally to beat the Mystics. "Because we won by so much against Phoenix, coming in here, I think we may have taken Washington for granted a little bit," Young said. "I don't think we brought enough energy." Crystal Langhorne had 17 points, including 11 in the final quarter, to lead Washington (5-17) on a late rally. Jasmine Thomas also scored 17 points and Monique Currie had 12. After shooting 45 percent against the Mercury, the Silver Stars missed 24 of 37 shots in the first half against the Mystics. "(Missed) some shots?" Hammon said. "(We missed) all the shots. It was rough going there. That happens. What you want to do is keep playing defense, try to stay within striking distance or maintain a little bit of a lead because you know the shooting is eventually going to come around." Leading by one point at halftime, the Silver Stars outscored Washington 26-12 in the third quarter totake a commanding lead into the fourth. "We talked about what we needed to do (in the second half)," Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said. "The main thing is San Antonio came out more focused and played with more sense of urgency in the third quarter than we did." Hammon scored 12 points in the third, opening with a 3-pointer and a driving layup to extend San Antonio's lead to 40-32. She added another 3 following a layup by Robinson to extend the Silver Stars' advantage to 47-37 with 5:23 left in the third. "When our posts sprint down to that block, it puts a lot of pressure on them because most of the time it's a guard," Hammon said. "I know I got a couple of 3s in transition, but it's because our post players ran and pulled all that defense." Washington pulled within six points late in the fourth. Currie opened the rally, hitting a jumper to cut the lead to 63-52 with 7 minutes left. Langhorne hit two jumpers to pull Washington to 67-61 with 4 minutes remaining. "I have to compliment Washington," San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said. "They just competed and they were physical and tough minded. They didn't go away. I mean, we put them down 15 points and they kept coming back." Robinson hit her second straight short jumper to give San Antonio a 71-62 edge a minute later. Robinson scored six of her points in the final 3 minutes to help the Silver Stars preserve their win streak. "Wasn't that amazing -- from a standpoint of shot-making," Hughes said of Robinson. "We moved the ball well, but if your strategy is to leave her open, she's evolving into an excellent mid-range shooter. Those were pressure shots." San Antonio's Shameka Christon stole a crosscourt pass with less than two minutes remaining on a 3-on-2 break and the Mystics trailing 71-65. Young hit one of two free throws on the next possession. Washington closed to 75-72 on Thomas' 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds remaining, but Young was able to dribble out the clock after getting behind the defense on the ensuing inbounds. Despite going 3 for 15 to open the game, San Antonio tied the game at 9-all on a pair of free throws by Young. Post Jayne Appel had four of her game-high 10 rebounds in the first 5 minutes. Washington didn't fare much better offensively, going 3 for 13 in the first quarter. Hughes was assessed a technical foul with 3 minutes left in the first half after throwing his jacket onto the bench and had to be restrained by Young. Hughes was upset with a no call when Robinson lost the ball on a contested layup on a fastbreak. The technical sparked a pair of 3-pointers by Hammon that gave the Silver Stars a 33-27 lead. The Mystics cut the deficit on a 3-pointer by Thomas and a long jumper by Currie with 0.2 seconds left. Currie's shot was initially ruled a 3 but changed after a video review at the half. NOTES: Two bats were flying around the court at the AT&T Center before the game and during the first half. Hammon attempted to knock them down by tossing a basketball at them twice during pregame warmups. ... San Antonio F Tangela Smith appeared in her first home this year after missing the opening months following left knee surgery during the offseason.

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Wizards take stock of good and bad at midpoint of season

Wizards take stock of good and bad at midpoint of season

With their 104-101 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, the Wizards improved to 22-19 overall through 41 games, the exact midpoint of the 2016-17 season. They play again the next night in New York, so there will be little time for reflection of how they got here. But after beating the Grizzlies, head coach Scott Brooks and several of his players took a look back and a look ahead.

After beginning the season 2-8, they are now three games over .500. What have they liked about their season so far, and what do they still believe can be improved?

Brooks went into extensive detail.

“I didn’t like our start; I liked the last part of the first half, where we’ve played a much better since December. The thing I liked about the start [is that] we didn’t give in to a tough start, we kept battling and figuring out ways to get better – we’re tweaking and tinkering with the lineup, the starters mixing with some of the guys coming off of the bench. Some of our younger players have really done a good job of developing and staying with it when they’re not playing. It can be tough on you mentally, but I think our staff has done a good job to keep them engaged and keep them developing.

"I think Kelly [Oubre] has made some strides. He’s taken a few steps forward [and] taken a step back, but the step back he takes, he doesn’t get frustrated and takes another step. He always seems to bounce back and come back. Otto [Porter] has, I think, developed into the most consistent shooter in the league from the three. Every night it seems like he has it. And John [Wall] and Brad [Beal], I like the way they’re playing and leading. March [Marcin Gortat] has done a good job. I think we’re playing much better because we’re really buying into each other, and I think when you do that, teams have trouble beating us. I think at home, we’ve figured that out, but we have to figure out how to do it on the road.”

Guard Bradley Beal agreed with Brooks, that he was most pleased with how the Wizards rebounded from their dreadful start. 

“I like how we fought through adversity. I think we didn't give up on our slow start. We battled back and now we're over .500 now but just imagine if we were playing the way we were supposed to the first couple of games, our record would probably be a lot different. Definitely proud of the way we've been playing, the way we bounced back. We definitely can get better at playing great defense for 48 minutes, being locked in for 48 minutes. Just making sure we continue to respect our opponents and be prepared for every game moving forward.” 

[RELATED: CMills asks why Wall, Beal don't get more national attention]

Otto Porter gave a few reasons why he thinks they are playing better now than before.

“Back then it was early. We were still figuring each other out. New coaches, new players. Right now, we are starting to figure things out. We are confident in ourselves, playing for each other, playing hard and just rolling with it... Just, I guess figuring out things defensively. Everybody is on the same page. Offensively, just letting the game come to us. Moving the ball, and knowing that we want to be a defensive team," he said.

Improving away from the Verizon Center was a common theme in the answers from players. The Wizards are now 18-6 at home, while only the Golden State Warriors have more home wins. On the road, the Wizards are only 4-13 with the Nets the only NBA team featuring less road victories.

That's enough to give them the fifth seed in the East, but they know they still have plenty of work to do.

“We have a lot we can improve on: just closing out games, playing for a full 48-minutes, moving the ball at times when we get stagnant, but I like the effort that we gave," guard John Wall said of the first half of the season. "The way that we started the season, the way we had a great month of December, and we're playing well right now. It's great to take care of home court, just want to for the second half of the season improve on the road. If we can find a way to improve on the road I feel like we could have a better record. To be in the situation we are now, the way that we started the season, you can't ask for more.”

The Wizards were in a reflective mood, but Marcin Gortat put it bluntly where he thinks the Wizards are currently at.

“[The 22-19 record means] nothing. We have to continue to do what we do. We aren’t getting excited. We’ve been in this situation where we’ve been minus-five, under .500. We just have to focus and play and now we have to get some wins on the road," he said.

[RELATED: Grizzlies pay for ignoring Otto Porter]

Last-second layup secures Virginia Tech win over Georgia Tech

Last-second layup secures Virginia Tech win over Georgia Tech

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Seth Allen scored the final two of his 17 points on a layup with 15 seconds left to lift Virginia Tech to a 62-61 victory over Georgia Tech on Wednesday.

It was a game the Hokies needed after losing three of their past four games. Allen hit 6 of 9 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, and Zach LeDay added 17 points.

Virginia Tech (14-4 overall, 3-3 ACC) led by as many as nine in the second half, but couldn't put away the Yellow Jackets (11-7, 3-3), who had two chances in the final seconds to take the lead. Georgia Tech turned the ball over with :09 left, and then fouled Virginia Tech's Justin Robinson, who missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Quinton Stephens missed a contested jumper at the buzzer that would have won the game for Georgia Tech.

Stephens paced the Yellow Jackets with 18 points.

MORE NCAA: Should Georgetown consider parting ways with John Thompson III?