In what was her last home game ever in the WNBA, Sophia Young-Malcolm did not get the farewell she desired, as the Phoenix Mercury did a number on the San Antonio Stars.
A 30-point difference is hardly something to scoff at. In the WNBA, it is not necessarily a common occurrence, so when it does happen it is so much sweeter to the winning team. Tonight, September 5th, Phoenix is enjoying that sweet sensation.
Phoenix took the lead about two minutes into the game, and never truly handed over the reins to San Antonio. The Mercury was hell bent on victory, and their energy was palpable, even watching from a laptop screen.
Brittany Griner was no stranger to racking up points for Phoenix tonight, completing a total of 22 points for the Mercury, with Dupree and Currie not far behind. The team looked fluid like a well-oiled machine and took advantage of every play.
Scoring 52% and having 23 assists only gave them more glory, and ultimately gave them a 30 point lead over San Antonio. Phoenix is currently in 2nd place in the Western Conference.
With a 19-13 record the Mercury are only a mere two and a half games behind the Minnesota Lynx, and are on a highway to excellence with a 12-4 at home and a 7-9 road record. Although their road record is hardly impressive, the team wasted no time beating the Stars in Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, giving the Mercury a slight upgrade in their away game status.
Fans are not the only ones to notice Griner’s powerhouse plays and the Mercury’s domination of the court, San Antonio’s coach Dan Hughes had this to say about the team:
“I just thought that Phoenix honestly was the more dominant team, especially playing through (Brittney) Griner the way that they did. I thought Griner was very good, and she was an enabler for them in a lot of situations.”
The Stars struggled throughout the game to keep possession of the ball, with their highest scorers being Malcolm-Young and Ayayi, each with only 8 points for the team. That isn’t the worst news for San Antonio though, they are now further away from a shot at the championship and are practically cemented in last place in the Western Conference.
With a measly 30% shoot rate and a 7-25 record the Stars have quite a windy road ahead if they expect to improve their season at this point. The team has a no wins (0-15) record on the road, and an only slightly better at home record with seven wins and 10 losses on their own court.
Lightning had apparently struck Phoenix as they dominated the court left and right, leaving San Antonio with nothing but a salty taste in their mouth after a harsh and frustrating loss. Losing hurts no matter who you are, but a 30 point deficit during your last home game with the Stars, now that is painful.
Sophia Young-Malcolm, one of the high scorers for San Antonio tonight, spoke of her upcoming retirement, telling reporters she hasn’t quite come to terms with the fact this was her last home game with San Antonio;
“I don’t necessarily think that it has hit me yet. I feel like it is just another game, and maybe after this season is over that is when it is going to hit me, when I realize it. We keep saying it, but it hasn’t necessarily hit yet. It doesn’t feel like it is the last game that I am going to be playing at home, but it has been great.
“Obviously I am sad that we lost by so much, but it has been great.”
Malcolm-Young wasn’t the only one to discuss her retirement, Phoenix’s head coach Sandy Brondello spoke highly of Stars’ forward, reminiscing on her rookie season in the WNBA
“What I really remember was that people talked about her size but she’s just got this big heart. She is such a great competitor and is always trying to get better. I know my husband spent a lot of time with her one-on-one, and really developed her game.
She wasn’t happy just being the player she came from college. She really grew as a player in the WNBA. At the same time, she is a great person. She is a great teammate. Coming back from her ACL she struggled a little bit last year, but she had a very good season this year. If you’re going to go out, you may as well go out in that way.”
Although they had every opportunity to be greedy winners the Mercury players and staff were generous in their comments about San Antonio, reassuring reporters that despite such a big difference in points they have nothing but respect for the Stars, and are excited for the rest of their season this fall.