- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2001


CLEVELAND It looks like the Washington Mistakes are back.

The Washington Mystics set a WNBA record for fewest points in a 69-34 loss to the Cleveland Rockers last night before 9,307 at Gund Arena in the season opener for both teams.

It was 1998 revisited, shades of the horrifying 3-27 season.

New Mystics coach Tom Maher had a courtside seat for a game that epitomized everything that has plagued the franchise for the past three seasons. The Mystics kicked off a season filled with hope by missing their first 11 shots and going more than nine minutes without scoring. The Mystics hoped to be Eastern Conference contenders this season. They didn't look the part last night.

"There is no question we stunk," Maher said. "There is no other word for it. We stunk. At least we know where we are."

The Portland Fire owned the previous low of 39 points, established June 30 last season against the four-time league champion Houston Comets.

Team records for futility set by the Mystics last night:

• Fewest points (34) in game.

• Fewest points (16) in a half.

• Fewest field goals (13) in a game.

• Lowest shooting percentage (24.5) in a game.

"Defensively, I've experienced some worse performances but never anything like that offensively," Maher said.

The Rockers raced to a 16-0 lead. The Mystics scored their first basket 9:14 in when Helen Luz made a running one-hander from 10 feet.

The Mystics' starters combined to shoot 9-for-40. Superstars Nikki McCray and Chamique Holdsclaw were horrible. In 21 minutes, McCray made two of seven shots for five points and added two turnovers.

Holdsclaw was worse. The Mystics' franchise player shot 3-for-14 for eight points with six turnovers. As a team, the Mystics made 13 of 53 shots.

"For us, we have got to use it as a lesson," Holdsclaw said. "We cannot go around saying we stunk. We just cannot have too many of these games that bury ourselves, because you do not want to be embarrassed like this too many times."

The Mystics' first half was simply a nightmare. Washington shot 6-for-26 (23 percent), including 0-for-8 from behind the 3-point arc. The Mystics turned over the ball 10 times in the half, leading to nine points by the Rockers.

The Rockers' dominance extended to rebounding. Cleveland outrebounded Washington 41-23 and pulled down 11 offensive rebounds to the Mystics' four.

The Rockers hadn't changed much from the team the Mystics easily defeated 65-55 two weeks ago in an exhibition in Washington. In that game the Rockers were missing four key performers forwards Mery Andrade, Rushia Brown and Eva Nemcova and center Ann Wauters.

Brown and Wauters who combined to average 14.6 points last year are still playing in Europe.

Nemcova, who led the Rockers in scoring in six of the 14 games she played last season before blowing out her left knee, injured her right quad last week during her first practice of the season and didn't even play last night.

Andrade, an Old Dominion product, contributed little with two points and four assists.

So, in essence, the Mystics were pummeled by the Rockers' reserves.

Holdsclaw and McCray have feasted on the Rockers in the past. In the 12 previous games between these Eastern Conference foes, McCray has been the Mystics' high scorer nine times, averaging 20.5 points. In the other three games, Holdsclaw averaged 21.3 points.

"People are probably devastated, 'Oh, my God, the Mystics got blown out,' but I'd rather take some hard losses now than at the end of the season when it counts," Holdsclaw said."

Note In case anybody was wondering what happened to former Mystics coach Nancy Darsch, she is still on the payroll. The Mystics' media guide lists Darsch, the team's third coach, as head pro scout. Darsch resigned as Mystics coach July 14 after Holdsclaw publicly criticized her coaching style. Darrell Walker, the Washington Wizards' director of player personnel, was named the interim coach the remainder of last season.

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