- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2000


It was a notable evening for the Washington Mystics last night at MCI Center.

The former WNBA patsies won their first season opener, scored their most points in a game and for the first time in club history are over .500. And for all, that, they can thank Chamique Holdsclaw and Nikki McCray.

Holdsclaw scored a career-high 29 points, and McCray set a team record with six 3-pointers as the Mystics blasted the Orlando Miracle 92-66 before 14,421. Over its first two seasons, Washington had a record of 15-47.

Holdsclaw's previous career high was 24 points last Aug. 5 against the Miracle. McCray made six of 10 3-pointers and tied Keri Chaconas' team record for 3-pointers attempted in a game.

"I have a lot of confidence in what I can do and confidence in my team this year," Holdsclaw said. "So I'm just going out there and try to attack from the start. I can't be passive that's not my role on the team. I think last year I stepped back too much. I might not go out there and play great every night, but the attitude is going to be key."

Holdsclaw and McCray have practiced sparingly with the team since early May because of injuries. Holdsclaw suffered two stress fractures in her right foot in late March while training with the U.S. national team. McCray has been plagued with cartilage damage in her right knee. Holdsclaw sat out both of the Mystics' exhibition games, and McCray played only 21 minutes in last week's 92-48 loss to the Houston Comets.

But in the first game that counted, the Mystics' top two scorers from last season did whatever they wanted offensively. Holdsclaw had her complete repertoire working short pull-up jumpers, turnaround jumpers and driving layups. Holdsclaw also finished with 12 rebounds four shy of a career best four assists and three steals.

Meanwhile, McCray was doing her best "mad bomber" impersonation. Coming into this season, McCray was only a 30.6 percent 3-point shooter. The Miracle, who played a lot of zone defense, didn't rotate quick enough on the Mystics' ball movement and McCray made the Miracle pay.

"Washington came out and hit big shots," Miracle coach Carolyn Peck said. "That kind of takes the wind out of your sail a little bit. You bust your butt and come down and Nikki would hit a big three."

The Mystics also set a field goal percentage mark in this game. The Mystics shot 56.7 percent, breaking the old mark of 51.9 percent last June 22 against the Phoenix Mercury.

"I'm very happy with the numbers," Mystics coach Nancy Darsch said. "My goal going in, if they could do it, was for … our top seven to play a lot of minutes."

Power forward Murriel Page posted solid numbers with 15 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Rookie center Tausha Mills scored eight points with six rebounds in 15 minutes.

The Mystics blew a 13-point lead and allowed the Miracle to take a 41-40 halftime lead. The Mystics went away from their game namely Holdsclaw in the first half and the Miracle hung close.

The Mystics committed 12 first-half turnovers, which enabled the Miracle to finish the half on a 19-9 run in 7:25. For the game, the Mystics had 20 turnovers.

The Mystics could have put this game away in the first 20 minutes. By herself, Holdsclaw propelled the Mystics on a game-opening 8-0 run. Holdsclaw nailed a foul line jumper, a 15-footer from the left baseline, two free throws and assisted on a McCray layup. Only 2:25 had expired, and Holdsclaw gave the Mystics a comfortable lead.

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