It took the Washington Mystics two overtimes to finally outlast the Detroit Shock today and they had to do it without their second-leading scorer. But the inside play of forwards Chamique Holdsclaw and Murriel Page powered the Mystics to an 83-78 victory before 8,358 at the Palace.
After guard Nikki McCray (18 points) fouled out with 1 minute 21 seconds left in the first overtime, Page and Holdsclaw kept the Mystics (4-9) in the game as the team won for the second time in the past three games.
Before fouling out, guard Andrea Nagy put the Mystics ahead for good, 78-76, with a layup with 44 seconds remaining. Holdsclaw sealed the win by hitting two free throws to make it 81-78 after Korie Hlede's free throws had cut the lead to one with 10.2 seconds to play.
"It would have been like a shot in the chest to pull a game that long and not win it," said Holdsclaw, who finished with a game-high 20 points and 16 rebounds.
After shooting 7 for 25 in the Mystics' past five games, Page contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds and controlled the lane on both ends of the court. Along with forward Shalonda Enis, she helped hold the Shock's inside players to a combined 17-for-50 (34 percent) shooting and provided the inside scoring that the Mystics' offense relies on. She also helped the Mystics outrebound Detroit 48-40.
Page did this while playing most of her game-high 47 minutes in foul trouble.
"Maybe they overlooked Murriel today," Washington Coach Nancy Darsch said. "She played hard the entire game and refused to be tired. She called for the ball with confidence, which is always a good sign. She wanted the ball. She had that look [on] her face. She didn't care about her fouls."
Page did care about a victory for Washington, which couldn't close out the Shock in regulation. The Mystics (4-9) trailed 65-61 with 2 minutes 44 seconds left, but rallied behind a three-point play by McCray. Page's two free throws gave Washington a 66-65 lead. With the score tied at 68, the Mystics had the ball in the game's final 10 seconds, but committed a shot clock violation. With 6.6 seconds left, Detroit forward Dominique Canty took the inbounds pass, drove and appeared to have an open shot. But Page's defense forced Canty to alter her shot, and the ball went wide.
After Page hit a layup to tie the game at 72, the Shock (5-8) had a chance to win with six seconds left in overtime, with the ball in the hands of the player it wanted, guard Sandy Brondello. Brondello, who scored two buzzer-beating shots in Detroit's triple-overtime loss to Utah on Tuesday, pulled up to attempt a three-pointer, but Mystics reserve guard Markita Aldridge blocked it. It was a bit of redemption for Aldridge, who attended Detroit's Martin Luther King Jr. High School and had 85 tickets reserved for family and friends today. Seconds earlier, she had missed an open jumper that would have given the Mystics the lead.
"I definitely feel like I reasserted myself," Aldridge said. "I never lost my rhythm being on the floor. I had a tough shooting night, but it came together for me."
The game went to a second overtime, and the Mystics came out recharged against a tired opponent. They patiently executed their offense, passing inside, then kicking the ball back outside as Holdsclaw hit a jumper to put Washington in front, 74-72. Then Aldridge made a leaning jumper inside, and Nagy (nine assists) hit her layup to give the Mystics a lead they held. Canty, who finished with 15 points, pressured Detroit center Val Whiting into missing seven straight shots in the second overtime.
In a tightly officiated game, every Washington starter had at least four fouls. Shock guards Jennifer Azzi and Brondello (15 points) also fouled out.
"The loss last Thursday [to Utah] got our attention," said Darsch, whose team has surpassed last season's win total. "You have to be ready to play hard every game. We showed a lot of character and determination."
CAPTION: Mystics' Chamique Holdsclaw, left, tries to elude Shock guard Dominique Canty. Holdsclaw finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds in the Mystics' double-overtime win. Washington improved to 4-9.