PHOENIX (AP) — Danielle Robinson had 14 points, nine assists and eight rebounds and the San Antonio Stars held off the Phoenix Mercury 78-74 on Friday night.
The Stars (2-1) led by 10 in the fourth, but Phoenix (2-1) got within two.
The Stars scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter and Robinson had key back-to-back baskets midway through the period.
“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 seven-time All-Star Becky Hammon coming back from a long layoff, Robinson, in her fourth year, has been thrust into the point guard role.
“Danielle Robinson, from our standpoint, we just love her development at the point,” San Antonio coach Dan 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, whose steal and layup gave the Stars a 73-63 lead with 5:29 remaining, added 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.”
DeWanna Bonner hit a 3-pointer to spark a Mercury comeback and Erin Phillips’ running 4-footer with 1:05 left cut it to 76-74. The teams traded possessions, but Jayne Appel hit a pair of free throws with 5.3 seconds remaining to secure the win.
“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.”
Diana Taurasi led the Mercury with 21 points and nine assists. She was 8 of 14 from the field.
Bonner had 15 points, and Brittney Griner added 12 points and nine rebounds for Phoenix.
The Stars outscored the Mercury 46-34 in the paint and took advantage of 16 Phoenix turnovers, scoring 18 points of the miscues.
“Those extra possessions really hurt you,” Phoenix 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.”
The Mercury, who at one point of the third quarter were shooting 64 percent from the field, missed 10 of their last 16 shots.
“You just want to be aggressive every game, get the ball inside, driving, getting into the paint,” said post player Danielle Adams, who added five points in the first minute of the fourth quarter. “We know they have a good player in Brittney Griner, we just wanted to attack and lift her up.”
Phoenix won its first two games by an average of 11 points.
Phoenix went on a 10-2 run late in the third quarter to take a 58-53 lead, but Jia Perkins’ runner gave San Antonio a 60-59 advantage going into the final period.
“We had some breakdowns, a little untypical some of them but that’s because we haven’t got the chemistry yet,” Brondello said. “We’ll get better. It wasn’t our best game.”
Coming off Saturday’s 80-76 home win over Tulsa, San Antonio won back-to-back games after losing its opener. The Stars only won two in a row twice last season.
The 37-year-old Hammon, who played in only one game for San Antonio last year because of a broken finger and torn ACL, played in her first game of the season after missing the first two with a sprained left ankle. She had eight points and four assists in 23 minutes.
Phoenix won three of five meetings last year on its way to the Western Conference finals.
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