During the Washington Mystics' 72-68 win over the Orlando Miracle last night, Chamique Holdsclaw and Nikki McCray shook the pain out of their injured left fingers and scored 24 points apiece. But it was someone who had spent most of the season on the injured list that emerged as the hero before 12,783 at MCI Center.
Heather Owen's jump shot from the free throw line gave the Mystics a 65-64 lead with 45 seconds left, and from there Washington made 7 of 8 free throws to secure back-to-back wins for the second time in franchise history.
With seven games left, the Mystics (8-17) are 3 1/2 games out of the playoffs. None of the players are shying away from making a run, although they know it's a stretch.
"Thank God for the win," McCray said. "Now, we've won two games back to back and have a new focus for the rest of the season."
With 14 minutes 40 seconds left in the game, Holdsclaw (10-of-16 shooting) flipped a pass over her shoulder to a slashing McCray, who drove inside and tossed a no-look pass to forward Murriel Page, who made an easy layup to give the Mystics a 44-32 lead.
But the Miracle, which beat Washington by 25 points at MCI Center on July 19, rallied. Orlando (10-14) switched to a zone defense and pressured the Mystics up court, leading to a 29-16 run. Behind center Taj McWilliams (24 points) and forward Sheri Sam (15), Orlando led 64-63 with a minute left.
With time on the shot clock running out, Owen, who had scored just one field goal in her last five games, caught the ball at the free throw line and sank the shot.
STARZZ 81, SPARKS 75: Natalie Williams, returning from a four-game absence with an injured foot, had 17 points and 11 rebounds in a reserve role to lead Utah to the victory at home.