- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2001


The Charlotte Sting officially turned out the lights on the Washington Mystics' dreadful season.

The Mystics were mathematically eliminated from the WNBA playoffs last night after turning in another in a string of poor performances.

And at least one player star Chamique Holdsclaw has seen enough.

"[Losing is] getting real old," Holdsclaw said after the 65-60 loss before 13,619 at MCI Center. "I'm not always the happiest camper, but last year I made a commitment to this team. I told our general manager [Melissa McFerrin], 'OK, here I am. I'm going to work hard to do what I can do to become a better team player and come into the season in better shape. We're consistently not going out there and accomplishing anything. We have expansion teams going to the playoffs. [McFerrin and coach Tom Maher] have to go out there and get some players and change things around because I'm tired of losing.

"If they feel they can't win with me, if I'm the problem, then get rid of me. But we have to do something for the sake of the organization. This is getting old. We can't keep firing coaches. Something has to change, and that's the GM's job."

With the win, the Sting (15-14) clinched the fourth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Mystics (9-19) have four regular season games left and can only play for pride.

So once again, the Mystics find themselves looking at a high draft pick in next spring's WNBA Draft. However, there isn't much quality coming out of the college ranks.

The Mystics were projected to be a playoff team this season, not one of the league's worst teams. But losing has been the Mystics' modus operandi. Barring a miracle, this will be the Mystics' third 20-loss season in four years.

The Mystics went 1-for-10 from behind the 3-point arc and nine of 16 from the free throw line. Holdsclaw led Washington with 17 points on 7-for-18 shooting. She gave the fans something to cheer about early in the second half when she scored her 1,500th career point on an 18-foot jumper near the top of the key.

"It doesn't matter because it seems like I have [1,500] losses," Holdsclaw said. "Personal stuff means nothing. I've always been in a position where my success has always been equaled out by team success. It stinks when you can go out there and score, but your team doesn't win."

The Mystics have struggled all season shooting the ball, whether from the line or from the field. Coming into last night's game, the Mystics were the WNBA's worst 3-point shooting and free throw shooting team, next to last in points a game and 14th out of 16 teams in field goal percentage.

That, of course, continued last night. Nikki McCray, the Mystics' All-Star shooting guard, made just four of 14 shots, missing all five from behind the 3-point arc, and finished with 10 points.

Center Vicky Bullett went 6-for-14 from the floor, and forward Murriel Page made two of six shots and added six turnovers.

"I think [the Mystics] have some talented players, but they need their roles defined," Sting point guard Dawn Staley said. "You just don't come into this league and dominate with a new coach and new players. Chamique can't carry a WNBA team. There are too many talented players and too many talented teams. If you concentrate on Chamique, that's 20 points and 10 rebounds."

The Mystics could learn a thing or two from the Sting, who opened the season 1-10 but never gave up and are now in the playoffs. Staley led a balanced attack with 13 points and four assists. Shooting guard Andrea Stinson scored 12 points and contributed a season-high seven assists. Rookie center Tammy Sutton-Brown scored 10 points and added seven rebounds, and forward Allison Feaster added nine points.

"It would have been easy at 1-10 to put up the white flag and walk away and kind of call it a day," Sting coach Anne Donovan said.

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