The Washington Mystics fully expect star forward Chamique Holdsclaw to return to practice today, the team said yesterday.

Holdsclaw, the Mystics' leading scorer and rebounder, missed Saturday night's game at Charlotte -- a 70-41 loss -- because of an unforeseen personal issue.

She had started every other game this season.

"She's been in touch with management and she's okay, everything is fine," said Pat Summitt, the Mystics' player personnel consultant and Holdsclaw's coach at the University of Tennessee. "It was just a quick personal thing, that's it. The Mystics are confident she'll be back and be fine."

They need her desperately. Holdsclaw (19.3 points, 8.5 rebounds) is in the running for the WNBA's most valuable player award. Her outstanding play so far this season has helped the Mystics to a 10-13 record and kept them in playoff contention.

The Mystics have made the playoffs twice in their seven-year history, but they've already eclipsed their win total from last season.

* MONARCHS 71, FEVER 62: In Sacramento, Yolanda Griffith had 20 points and eight rebounds, and Tangela Smith added 16 points in the Monarchs' victory over Indiana.

Natalie Williams led the Fever with 17 points.