Sting 70, Mystics 41

The Washington Mystics absorbed their most lopsided loss of the season without leading scorer Chamique Holdsclaw on Saturday night, falling to the Sting, 70-41. Holdsclaw did not travel with the team because of personal reasons, according to a team spokesman.

The undermanned Mystics trailed by as many as 32 in the second half. Holdsclaw, who averages 19.3 points per game, missed the game one night after being held to nine points on 3-of-17 shooting in a home win over Minnesota.

"Right now, I don't know what her status is," Coach Michael Adams said. "Obviously, she's out for personal reasons and hopefully she'll be back soon. That's it, that's all I know."

Pat Summitt, the Mystics' player personnel consultant and Holdsclaw's college coach at Tennessee, said she received a telephone message Saturday afternoon from Judy Holland Burton, the Mystics' president of basketball operations.

"She just said Chamique wouldn't make the trip for personal reasons," Summitt said when reached by telephone Saturday night. "I don't think it's anything to be alarmed about. But I haven't talked to Chamique, and I don't know anything else."

Washington was also without starting point guard Tamicha Jackson, who's on the injured list with a strained knee, and Stacey Dales-Schuman, who missed her third straight game with a sore heel.

Meantime, Charlotte's Dawn Staley made sure her last game before the Athens Games was a victory.

Staley, set to play on the U.S. women's Olympic team for the third time, scored 19 points, helping Charlotte snap a four-game losing streak.

"I just tried to come out and attack and be aggressive," Staley said. "Fortunately, I was able to get to the basket and get some easy shots. I hit the open shots and I got off more shots than I normally do. We needed this game."

Staley scored nine points in a 17-0 run during a seven-minute span in the first half, helping Charlotte take a 17-6 lead with 9 minutes 9 seconds left.

The Sting built a 31-9 lead before settling for a 15-point halftime edge, with Staley scoring 13 points.

Rookie Alana Beard had 19 points for the Mystics (10-13), who have lost four of five. Fellow rookie Nicole Powell added a career-high 14 points for the Sting (11-11), which held a 36-17 rebounding edge.

"Teams face adversity and we have to overcome that," Beard said. "We didn't walk into this game thinking we were going to lose. We just have to fight through this."

Staley was honored before the game by Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, who proclaimed it "Dawn Staley Olympian Day."

McCrory referred to Staley as "Dawn Stanley" four times during the ceremony. Staley shrugged off the miscue and went on to shoot 8 for 11.

"[Stanley] is her new name," joked teammate Allison Feaster.

* LIBERTY 78, SHOCK 69: New York won the first WNBA game at Radio City Music Hall, riding a big second half from Elena Baranova to a victory over Detroit.

The Liberty normally plays at Madison Square Garden, which is being reconfigured for next month's Republican convention. This was one of six games moved to Radio City.

Baranova scored 16 of her 21 points in the second half. She scored the last five points of a 13-2 run, capped at 64-55 by her fourth three-pointer of the half with 3:36 to go.

Becky Hammon had 17 points and Vickie Johnson added 16 points for New York.

* SUN 69, SILVER STARS 55: Nykesha Sales broke out of shooting slump with a season-high 26 points to lead host Connecticut to its largest margin of victory this season.

* MERCURY 71, FEVER 56: Anna DeForge scored a game-high 21 points as host Phoenix won its third straight game.

* STORM 67, COMETS 63: In Seattle, Lauren Jackson had 26 points and nine rebounds to lead the Storm to its fifth win in a row.

Staff writer Eli Saslow contributed to this report.

Charlotte's Tammy Sutton-Brown rejects Alana Beard's shot in the Mystics' biggest loss of the season. Chamique Holdsclaw sat out due to personal reasons.