- The Washington Times - Monday, July 23, 2001

The savior was back in uniform for the Washington Mystics.

Forward Chamique Holdsclaw missed the Mystics' past three games all losses with a stress fracture in her right foot. Yesterday, Holdsclaw returned to bail out the sinking Mystics at least temporarily with an all-star performance.

Holdsclaw scored a game-high 19 points with five rebounds, five steals and three assists as the Mystics defeated the Indiana Fever 69-61 before an announced 16,021 at MCI Center, snapping a five-game losing streak.

Holdsclaw's strong all-around game stopped the Mystics' second-longest losing skid of the season. On Friday, the Mystics (6-14) lost to the Fever 75-63 in Indianapolis in a game they probably should have won.

With the 6-foot-2 Holdsclaw in the lineup, the Mystics obviously are a better team than the one the Fever (7-15) played two nights earlier.

"I was confident coming in that we could win this game," Holdsclaw said. "I knew when we caught the ball on the perimeter that baseline penetration was wide open because their posts didn't read the help-side really well. I was telling my team whenever they caught the ball out on the perimeter, look baseline."

The Fever fell prey to one of the Mystics' usual downfalls: turnovers. Indiana turned the ball over a season-high 24 times, leading to 26 points for Washington. Heck, even when the Fever won the jump ball after halftime, point guard Rita Williams didn't even know what basket to shoot at.

Williams, a former Mystic, was ready to race downcourt to the same basket the team attacked in the first half. Luckily, Fever center Olympia Scott-Richardson directed Williams toward the right basket, and Scott-Richardson scored a layup once Williams realized where she was on the court.

The next five minutes proved the undoing for the Fever. The Mystics went on a 14-0 run early in the second half to open up a 47-34 lead with 13:40 left. During the Mystics' run, the Fever threw the ball away six times, and the Mystics subsequently converted easy layups.

"The lapse in the second half when they went up 10 or 12 just hurt us, and we could never get back from that," Fever coach Nell Fortner said. "That was the ballgame right there the turnovers all in itself. That was a problem we had earlier in the season, and we hadn't had it as bad lately. I don't know where that came from."

It came from Fortner's backcourt of Williams and rookie Niele Ivey masquerading as combination guards. Williams and Ivey accounted for eight turnovers.

"[Williams] was not the point guard. Niele Ivey was the point guard, not Rita. Rita was the two-guard," Fortner explained of her bumbling backcourt, which registered just three assists.

The Mystics received strong supporting roles from center Vicky Bullett (nine points and 12 rebounds), shooting guard Nikki McCray (15 points) and point guard Annie Burgess (nine points and eight assists).

The win separated the Mystics from the Detroit Shock (5-15), now the worst team in the WNBA. But the Mystics face a three-game road trip starting tomorrow night in Orlando, Fla.

The Mystics are 1-8 on the road this season. With 12 games remaining and seven on the road, the Mystics still think they are postseason material. At this point, however, maybe their focus should be to avoid losing 20 games for the third time in four seasons.

"It was a relief to win," Mystics first-year coach Tom Maher said. "We're a team that hasn't had a natural complementary thing about itself. We all don't complement one another perfectly. Who's going to set a screen? Who's going to play defense? Who's going to block out? A well-rounded basketball club is going to win games."

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