- The Washington Times - Monday, August 12, 2002

CLEVELAND With losses in eight of their last nine games, the Washington Mystics stumbled into Cleveland yesterday in need of a soft place to land. The Rockers, who are the worst team at home in the WNBA, turned Gund Arena into a big, fat pillow as Washington overcame an 11-point deficit to beat Cleveland 60-54.
The victory kept the Mystics (17-14) tied for second place in the Eastern Conference with Charlotte, which beat New York yesterday.
Washington finishes the regular season in Charlotte, N.C., tomorrow, and the two teams will play each other in the first round of the playoffs. All that is left to be determined is homecourt advantage, which will belong to the winner of tomorrow's game.
If the Mystics win tomorrow, they will stay in Charlotte for the first game of the three-game series. Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) will be in the District. If Charlotte wins tomorrow, the series will begin at MCI Center. Mystics forward Chamique Holdsclaw said she was looking forward to an extended stay in North Carolina.
"They match up really well against us athletically," Holdsclaw said. "They play the same kind of set we play, too."
Holdsclaw was the difference last night. She had 18 points and 17 rebounds, including 14 points and 11 rebounds in the second half.
"She owned the defensive glass in the second half," Mystics coach Marianne Stanley said.
Sitting at her locker after the game with bags of ice taped to both sore ankles, Holdsclaw appeared drained but managed to smile.
"My body is aching already because this is my first year playing the post and doing all that banging inside," she said. "In the second half, I was just trying to pick and choose when to attack, and I realized my team needed me to pick it up. I just made a conscious effort to do that."
Cleveland led 19-8 in the first half as Washington wallowed in a 4-for-18 shooting slump. The Rockers led at the half 24-18.
Washington switched to a zone midway through the second half, and that greased the skids for Cleveland, which shot 26 percent from the field. The Rockers are 4-11 at home, including a league-record eight straight home defeats. Cleveland (10-21) also has blown double-digit leads in seven losses.
The Mystics took their first lead of the second half at 44-43 on a layup by Murriel Page, who scored 13 points off the bench.
After the Rockers took a 47-44 lead with 7:15 to play, Holdsclaw helped secure the victory with six points down the stretch despite playing with five fouls. Her 13-footer with 2:53 remaining gave Washington the lead for good 50-48.
Cleveland cut it to 53-51 on Jennifer Rizzotti's 3-pointer, but Holdsclaw took a no-look pass from Stacey Dales-Schuman and scored on a baseline layup with 48 seconds left.

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