She was unquenchable, uncanny and unstoppable all at once. And when Clarissa Davis-Wrightsil of the Phoenix Mercury walked off the court after her team had rallied to beat the Washington Mystics, 79-76, last night, she had the thrill of helping to turn the crowd of 11,060 at MCI Center silent.
"There's no doubt about it, winning on the road like this is great," she said. "What was up? I wasn't hesitating with my shooting at all. And I love it. It's great when you [silence the crowd]."
Davis-Wrightsil scored 19 of her 23 points in the second half to help bring the Mercury (2-3) back from a 16-point deficit. She made three three-pointers and four other jumpers during a 15-0 run in the second half to bring the Mercury to 59-58. From there, clutch free throw shooting and tight defense carried Phoenix.
"They hit some huge shots and did a great job going to the offensive rebounds," said Mystics assistant coach Jenny Boucek. "But I think we can take some responsibility for their run as well. We didn't execute our offense. They went to a zone, which affected us a little bit. . . . Their veteran player stepped up and our youth showed a little bit."
Mystics forward Chamique Holdsclaw (14 points, seven rebounds) said her team's preparation focused more on stopping the Mercury's transition game than on its half-court offense.
"They just had some other plays and stepped up and put the nail in the coffin," she said.
The Mystics (1-5) played perhaps their most energized game of the season for the first 35 minutes. Forward Murriel Page, making her first start of the season, played solid defense and held 6-foot-5 center Marlies Askamp without a field goal attempt in the first half.
Mystics coaches also saw the height advantage that 5-11 guard Nikki McCray had over Phoenix guard Michele Timms (5-7) and took advantage. McCray had a game-high 24 points.
"We're looking for that type of matchup every time," Boucek said. "We'll do that with Nikki and Chamique every time. Most perimeter players aren't used to guarding them like that. And it worked for a while, but we stopped executing our offense."
The Mystics stalled after taking a 16-point lead. Reserve Davis-Wrightsil made two free throws to begin the rally, followed by a three-pointer, four jumpers and two more three-pointers to give Phoenix a 69-67 lead. Page started guarding her and managed to slow her down, but by then the Mystics were playing a recharged opponent.
"They are a streaky team, and when they get on a roll, they're notorious for really snowballing," Boucek said. "We knew they could get hot any time."
The Mystics have not won a home game since Aug. 9, 1998, against Los Angeles. They have played two solid games at home this year but haven't found enough to finish off opponents.
Said Mystics Coach Nancy Darsch: "We have to stay together and stay positive. We have to be able to stop people. We have to keep believing."
Mystics Notes: Holdsclaw and Houston Comets guard Cynthia Cooper are the leading vote-getters in early returns for the WNBA All-Star Game. Holdsclaw leads all Eastern Conference players with 20,659 votes at forward. Cooper, the league's leading scorer (25 ppg), leads all players with 26,417 votes at guard for the Western Conference.
COMETS 84, SPARKS 76: Cynthia Cooper scored a season-high 36 points for host Houston, which won its club-record sixth straight game to start the season.
MIRACLE 71, ROCKERS 62: In Cleveland, Sheri Sam scored a career-high 22 points and Shannon Johnson added 21 for Orlando.
SHOCK 75, STING 69: In Auburn Hills, Mich., Jennifer Azzi scored 13 of her 18 points in the second half to lead Detroit past Charlotte.
MONARCHS 79, LYNX 62: Kedra Holland-Corn led five Sacramento players in double figures with 15 points and Ticha Penicheiro added 14 assists in a victory over visiting Minnesota.
CAPTION: Phoenix guard Michele Timms, front, Nikki McCray, right, and Andrea Nagy follow the bouncing ball. Mystics haven't won at home since Aug. 9, 1998.