Mystics Catch Fever For 1st Win of Year
Mystics 68, Fever 67
By Hank Lowenkron
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, May 24, 2004; Page D05
INDIANAPOLIS, May 23 -- The start was great for the Washington Mystics and the ending was equally good as a layup by Chamique Holdsclaw with 10 seconds to play produced a 68-67 victory Sunday night over the Indiana Fever.
The teams traded the lead 13 times and there were four ties in what was a tight game most of the night.
"We finally executed our plays and rebounded better," Washington Coach Michael Adams said. "It was a great effort by both sides. We secured the victory by the bounce of the ball. We made the plays at the end."
The Mystics built a 14-point advantage, 29-15, with 7 minutes 33 seconds remaining in the first half. But Indiana rallied to lead 32-31 at halftime as Washington made six turnovers and missed its final eight shots before the break.
Indiana got back in the game by scoring 12 consecutive points as the Mystics went scoreless for more than six minutes. Holdsclaw ended the run by making two free throws to give Washington a 31-28 edge. Deanna Jackson's three-point play tied the game and Indiana took its first lead since it scored the game's first basket on a free throw by Natalie Williams with 50 seconds left in the half.
The game turned into a battle of Holdsclaw against Tamika Catchings as the former University of Tennessee stars led their teams in scoring. Holdsclaw had a game-high 17 points and Catchings scored her team's final nine points to finish with 15.
"It is hard to win on the road in this league," Holdsclaw said. "Indiana had just had a close game with New York [on Friday], so they were doing what they knew how to do to win. But we played well down the stretch and it's great to walk away with a victory."
Rookie Alana Beard and Stacey Dales-Schuman contributed 11 points each as the Mystics evened their record after losing their season opener at home Saturday night to the Charlotte Sting.
Washington held Indiana to 41 percent shooting and came up with 13 turnovers, leading to 13 points.
"When we play well defensively, we're almost unstoppable," Beard said. "We just have to figure out when we have a team down to keep them down."
Jackson scored 14 points for Indiana, also 1-1.
Holdsclaw and Jackson each had double-doubles, with Holdsclaw grabbing 10 rebounds and Jackson pulling down a career-high 12.
Indiana took its biggest lead of the night at 58-52 with an eight-point run that included three-pointers by Coretta Brown and Kelly Schumacher.
A three-pointer from Dales-Schuman pulled Washington within one with 3:30 to play and she tied the score at 64 with another three-pointer. The reserve, who played 22 minutes, was fouled on the shot but missed the free throw.
Dales-Schuman managed to get the rebound of her missed shot and Washington capitalized on it to take the lead again with 40 seconds remaining on a layup by Chasity Melvin after a sharp pass from Tamicha Jackson. Catchings's three-pointer gave Indiana its final lead with 24 seconds remaining.
Washington took a timeout and, after Melvin missed a short jumper, Holdsclaw grabbed the rebound and hit the game-winning shot from three feet.
Indiana had two chances to regain the lead, but Jackson missed a layup and Kristen Rasmussen, who got the rebound, missed from about 17 feet.
"We made poor decisions down the stretch," Indiana Coach Brian Winters said. "We had a foul to give and didn't give it. We did not do what I told them to do in the huddle. We have to find a way to execute and not get too excited at the end."
• LIBERTY 68, COMETS 62: Becky Hammon scored 10 of her 22 points in the final six minutes to lead New York in its home opener.
Tina Thompson had a career-high 35 points and eight rebounds, and Sheryl Swoopes added 15 points for the Comets.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company