There is something about playing in Detroit that brings out the best in the Washington Mystics. That was apparent again in the team's 78-72 victory over the Shock, the defending WNBA champion, at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Tuesday night.
Chamique Holdsclaw had 27 points and eight rebounds and was one of four players who scored in double figures for Washington (5-6). With Washington holding a two-point lead with less than four minutes left, Holdsclaw got an offensive rebound off a missed free throw. Holdsclaw was fouled on her put-back attempt, making both free throws to give the Mystics a 67-63 lead.
Detroit then tied the score at 67 following a three-pointer by Ruth Riley and a free throw by Deanna Nolan. However, Stacey Dales-Schuman made a wide-open three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Mystics a 70-67 lead with 48 seconds left.
The victory followed Washington's 10-point loss to Connecticut on Sunday, and snapped Detroit's five-game winning streak. The Shock (6-4) played without all-star Cheryl Ford, who missed the game for her grandfather's funeral in Louisiana.
"There is no secret, we just needed a win," Washington Coach Michael Adams said. "Even though they were short-handed without Cheryl Ford, we play well with this team. With the showing we had against Connecticut the other night, we had to play better. The key stat was that we had four players score in double figures."
Indeed, Holdsclaw was not the only offensive threat. Reserve guard Tamicha Jackson scored 16 points, Dales-Schuman added 14 and reserve center Chasity Melvin contributed 10 for the Mystics.
Rookie guard Alana Beard had a game-high 10 rebounds.
"We have such a good post game this year that I'm just sort of floating around the three-point [line], trying to spot up for my teammates," Dales-Schuman said. "Chamique drew the double-team and made a great pass to me. . . . It was just a matter of being in the right place and a great pass from Chamique."
Led by Jackson, a former Detroit draft pick, the Mystics opened a 44-33 halftime lead. It was the most points they had scored in the first half this year.
"I had shots and they were going down," said Jackson. "Coming off the bench you always try to come in prepared. I think we just play well as a team. We just lost to Connecticut, so it always feels good to come back with a win, especially on the road against the Detroit Shock."
The second half was a different story as Detroit slowly chipped away at the deficit. Following Murriel Page's jumper that gave the Mystics a 52-40 lead with 11 minutes 10 seconds left, the Shock went on an 18-6 run over a three-minute stretch to tie the score at 58.
That is when Jackson reappeared for Washington. With the Mystics holding a one-point lead, she drove to the lane and found Nakia Sanford for an open layup and a 62-59 lead with 5:21 left.
* SPARKS 65, LIBERTY 49: Lisa Leslie had 18 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocked shots as visiting Los Angeles sent New York to its fifth straight loss.
* SUN 63, FEVER 58: Taj McWilliams-Franklin had 18 points and a season-high 14 rebounds for visiting Connecticut. Her rebound total was just one short of the franchise record.
* COMETS 63, STORM 57: In Seattle, Sheryl Swoopes scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half, and Houston snapped the Storm's franchise-best six-game winning streak.
* MERCURY 69, LYNX 46: Diana Taurasi scored 11 of her 18 points in a 19-5 run early in the second half, and Phoenix won at home.