- The Washington Times - Friday, June 22, 2001

SOL 74, MYSTICS 63

Another big late-game run, another tough loss for the Washington Mystics.

A 20-0 run by the Mystics over nearly six minutes brought them within two points of the Miami Sol with 2:37 left in last night's game at MCI Center after they had trailed by 17 points.

But Washington couldn't find a way to pull ahead, missing its last five shots and allowing Miami to close with a 9-0 run en route to a 74-63 victory.

It was the Mystics' fourth straight loss their third in a row at home and (2-6) coach Tom Maher blamed it on his team's first-half performance.

"That's the second game in a row I thought we should have won," Maher said. "A normal start … even a not-so-good start, we're in there. Basically, I thought our start was dreadful."

Mystics All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw failed to score in the first half and finished with nine points on 4-for-14 shooting and six rebounds.

For the Sol (5-3), Elena Baranova had 18 points and 12 rebounds, Sandy Brondello had 18 points and six assists and Sheri Sam added 15 points.

The Sol scored the game's first six points, then went on a 12-4 run over 2:19 that was sparked by Brondello's back-to-back 3-pointers.

Maher said most of Brondello's 13 first-half points as well as many of her teammates' baskets came because his defense didn't follow the scouting report.

"I can't think of one [basket by Brondello] that wasn't a mis-scout," Maher said. "I'd like to see her make one when we've followed the rules."

Midway through the first half, the Sol owned a 26-9 lead and led by 17 points twice in the half.

"Our starting group is putting us in a hole, and either we're going to have to get out of it or make some changes," Maher said.

Those changes could come at the guard position, if last night was any indication.

Two Washington guards came off the bench to help narrow the gap to 13 at halftime. Helen Luz scored eight points, including 2-for-2 from beyond the 3-point line, and Audrey Sauret showed her passing prowess with three assists in her first appearance for the Mystics. Luz finished with 15 points.

After her slow start, Holdsclaw scored seven quick points to open the second half and bring Washington within 46-36 with 16:44 remaining. But the Sol pulled away again, going up by 22 before the Mystics started their comeback.

Guard Nikki McCray (15 points) collected two straight assists to begin the 20-0 run and scored eight of her 15 points during the spree.

Despite the comeback, Washington's starters said much of the blame for the loss rests on their shoulders.

"It seems like it's the starting five players [who need to] step up there on the court," said Holdsclaw, who had three turnovers. "We're not getting the job done, I guess."

Notes Holdsclaw received the most votes of any player in the first week of All-Star fan balloting with 15,499, league officials announced. Houston Comets forward Tina Thompson is second overall and first among Western Conference players with 12,643. McCray received 7,506, good for second among Eastern Conference guards.

Washington center Vicky Bullett (3,662) is third in the East among forwards, and Mystics forward Murriel Page (3,230) ranks third among centers… .

Asked about the incorrect position listings on the ballot, Mystics general manager Melissa McFerrin said the league chooses which category each player is listed under and that both Bullett and Page are listed as forwards on the Mystics' roster.

"It just means [Page and I] are not going to get voted in," said Bullett, an All-Star in 1999. This year's All-Star Game is July 16 in Orlando, Fla.

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