- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 6, 2001


A monster game from Chamique Holdsclaw may turn out to be a defining moment in Washington Mystics history. Finally, the Mystics were able to beat one of the Western Conference powers.

Holdsclaw countered one of the greatest individual rebounding performances the WNBA has seen by Sacramento Monarchs center Yolanda Griffith to lead the Mystics past one of their biggest nemeses.

Holdsclaw tied her career mark with 16 rebounds, while Griffith pulled down 20 one shy of the WNBA mark shared by Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles) and Cindy Brown (Detroit). Griffith's 10 offensive rebounds fell one short of her own WNBA mark, but it was Holdsclaw's team that won the game. She posted her 17th career double-double as the Mystics rallied to edge the Monarchs 75-72 before an announced 11,302 last night at MCI Center.

This was the first time the Mystics (2-1) have beaten the Monarchs (2-1) in their four-year history, and they came back from a 12-point second-half deficit to do it. Holdsclaw scored a team-high 19 points with two assists, two steals and two blocks to complement her rebounding.

"We have stepped it up a level, because we actually closed out a basketball game against a great team," Holdsclaw said. "It makes us feel more confident about ourselves."

Griffith didn't have one of her better offensive games, scoring only nine points on 3-for-12 shooting from the floor, but she was sensational on the glass. The 6-foot-4 Griffith's previous career high was 19 three times.

"It was a personal thing, a pride thing," Holdsclaw said of her battle underneath against Griffith. "Coach tells Murriel [Page] and Vicky [Bullett] to box out and keep the posts off the boards and for me to go pursue the basketball. I'm one of the top rebounders in this league, and I'm going to go out there and do what I can."

The Mystics received a huge lift from their point guards as starter Annie Burgess and Brazilian backup Helen Luz combined to score 24 points. Luz had 13 points, including three of four 3-pointers, coming off the bench. The two scored 16 of the Mystics' 27 points in the final 10:06 as Washington erased a 60-48 deficit.

The Mystics had to withstand two potential game-tying 3-pointers by Monarchs point guard Edna Campbell in the waning seconds to prevent overtime. Campbell, who finished with 18 points, had two wide open looks at the top of the key and missed both with the Mystics leading 75-72. Forward Tangela Smith led the Monarchs with 22 points and 13 rebounds.

With eight seconds left, Campbell's first attempt was short off the front of the rim. The ball was batted back out to her, but the second attempt hit the back of the rim.

"It's important for us to equate the win/loss situation," Mystics coach Tom Maher said. "They're tired, but we tried to beat ourselves so many times with so many different things. The biggest thing is that our people played with authority. I thought we should have had a reasonable lead in the first half."

The Mystics' defense kicked in just when it looked like the Monarchs were ready to blow the Mystics out of their own building in the first half. The Mystics ended the half on a 10-2 run in the final 1:39.

Trailing 35-30, the Mystics aggressively double-teamed the wings, forcing the Monarchs to make ill-advised cross-court passes on their last three possessions. The result? A Nikki McCray layup drill. McCray, who came into this game averaging 10.5 points per game, scored four of her six first-half points in the final 46 seconds on "snowbird" layups.

Note The Mystics are going to hold an open practice tomorrow for fans on MCI Center's main court from 4 to 5 p.m.

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