- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2001


INDIANAPOLIS With the WNBA playoff chase entering its final stages, the Washington Mystics and Indiana Fever engaged in their own little survival battle.

And in the end, Indiana had a little more poise down the stretch, pulling out a 70-64 win last night at Conseco Fieldhouse.

The loss not only snapped Washington's two-game winning streak but left the Mystics (8-17) with little room for error in their final seven games if they are to land a playoff spot. Washington trails Charlotte (12-14) by 3? games for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We will probably have to win six of our last seven," Washington coach Tom Maher said. "That's a big ask [for us]."

If the Mystics are to catch the Sting, they will have to leapfrog Orlando (10-16) and now Indiana (9-17), which moved a half-game ahead of Washington.

"Clearly, this was a game we needed to win," Washington guard Nikki McCray said. "It is frustrating. We will just have to try to win the next seven games to get into the playoffs."

Indiana's bench and rebounding were the difference last night. The Fever's reserves outscored Washington's 39-4, and Indiana's 43-27 rebounding edge resulted in 16 second-chance points.

"We did some good things, but not enough," said Chamique Holdsclaw, who led Washington with 27 points. "The lack of rebounding in the first half cost us the game."

Two Indiana reserves, Gordana Grubin and Angie Braziel, did most of the damage. Braziel, who scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds, stole the ball with 1:20 remaining and scored to give the home team a 64-59 lead.

After a 3-pointer by Washington's Murriel Page sliced the deficit to two, Grubin, who came off the bench to score 17, drained a jumper with 48.8 seconds remaining that gave the home team a 66-62 lead.

Holdsclaw scored on a drive to make it a two-point game. And after an Indiana turnover with less than 20 seconds remaining, Washington had one final chance. But Vicky Bullett's pass to Page on a perfectly executed backdoor play was too low and went out of bounds.

"That was a dagger in the heart," said Maher, whose team lost the season series to Indiana 2-1.

Indiana clinched the victory on four free throws in the final 10.3 seconds.

McCray added 14 points for the Mystics, only three in the second half, and Bullett chipped in with 10. Indiana was led by a career-high 21 points from forward Jurgita Streimikyte.

The visitors let the game get away from them during a three-minute stretch in the second half. After Holdsclaw scored inside to tie it at 49-49, Washington went the next 3:09 without a point. Meanwhile, Indiana scored the next six, with Streimikyte scoring four to open a 55-49 lead.

The first half was tightly contested as Washington led 37-36 at intermission thanks in part to its one-two punch of Holdsclaw and McCray.

Holdsclaw, who scored 16 in the half, did most of her damage after Indiana opened a 15-7 lead. The third-year forward scored Washington's next 14 points, igniting a 19-9 run that tied the game 26-26.

That's when McCray, who scored 11, went to work. The 5-foot-11 shooting guard scored 10 of the Mystics' final 13 points, including a go-ahead jumper with 1:01 remaining that gave Washington its one-point halftime lead.

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