- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 1, 2001

The Washington Mystics have performed like "F" students all season. Now, with two weeks left in the regular season, they want to earn straight A's.

Just a few weeks ago, the Mystics were trading places with the Detroit Shock as the WNBA's worst team. They counted themselves out of postseason contention and were playing each game "for pride," as forward Chamique Holdsclaw often said.

But now, after winning three of their last five, the Mystics (8-16) have inched into sixth place in the East and once again fancy themselves as contenders for the conference's fourth and final playoff spot.

"We definitely want to get there," Holdsclaw said yesterday, "and it's weird that we still have the chance, too."

That chance, though, is awfully slim.

With eight games remaining, Washington stands 2* games behind the Charlotte Sting (11-14), the East's fourth-place team. That's a lot of ground to make up in such a short amount of time, and the Mystics realize it as they teeter on the brink of playoff elimination.

What they have to do is win games. And not just a couple of them. All of them.

"Everybody's saying [we need to] win six out of eight," Mystics guard Nikki McCray said. "But I want to be greedy. I want to win the rest of these games to make it for sure because I don't want to have to worry."

Looking at Washington's history, however, McCray should worry.

The Mystics' longest winning streak began at this time of year in 1999 but lasted only six games. Since then, their longest streaks have been four games last season and three games this year.

After winning back-to-back games, a season-ending sweep would give Washington 10 straight wins. It's a tall order for a team that has managed to win only a third of its games this season, but it's a must for Washington to make its second-straight playoff appearance.

The Mystics' next opportunity to extend their streak is tonight when they visit the Indiana Fever (8-17), a team a half-game behind the Mystics.

"We have to have those wins up there on the board," Mystics coach Tom Maher said. "There's no other way out of it.

"I mean, there's other factors in it, but if we win games, if we go 8-for-8, we'll be there for sure."

Notes Holdsclaw, still feeling the effects of a stress reaction in her right foot that recently caused her to sit out three games, is attending practice but plays a minimal amount with the team.

"After I play on it, the next day it's stiff, and I can't risk going out there and hurting it more in practice and not being able to go in the game," she said… .

The Mystics activated center Cass Bauer-Bilodeau from the injured reserve and placed center Tamara Stocks on the injured list with a lower back strain Monday.

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