- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2002

Momentum is not exactly on the Washington Mystics' side as the team enters the WNBA playoffs for just the second time in franchise history. Having lost nine of their last 11 games, the Mystics must turn around what has been a chaotic end to the regular season when it counts the most.
The Mystics open the best-of-3 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Charlotte Sting tonight at MCI Center, and, coach Marianne Stanley said, "all the past is the past right now. The slate is wiped clean."
And that hopefully includes one of the worst shooting nights in star forward Chamique Holdsclaw's career. In the Mystics' regular-season finale Tuesday in Charlotte, Holdsclaw made just four of 17 field goal attempts for a season-low eight points.
"That's not going to happen again," Stanley said of Holdsclaw's cold shooting.
The Mystics (17-15) won't go far in these playoffs if Holdsclaw is not on. Holdsclaw, who led the WNBA in scoring (19.9 points) and rebounding (11.6) this season despite missing 12 games because of ankle sprains and personal reasons, gives Washington its best chance to win.
Holdsclaw, center Vicky Bullett and forwards Murriel Page and Tonya Washington are the only players on the Mystics' 11-player playoff roster from the 2000 team that was swept in two games by the New York Liberty.
For the Mystics to advance to the Eastern Conference championship series, they'll need to win at least one game in Charlotte something the team didn't do in two regular-season tries. Both losses were convincing, 78-64 on June 19 and 67-57 Tuesday, allowing the Sting (18-14) to clinch home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
"It was one our better efforts, we were still in it and it was a six- or seven-point game most of the way," Stanley said of Tuesday's game. "There was a stretch where we missed shots and turned the ball over five times."
Stanley said she was happy with her team's defensive effort. This season the Sting went 16-4 when they scored 70 or more points. On Tuesday the Mystics held the Sting, who set a WNBA record this season for most 3-pointers made in season (211), to 67 points and lost.
"We were right in the range where we wanted them defensively," Stanley said.
Offensively, Stanley was unhappy with the Mystics' execution. They turned the ball over 15 times, and Stanley said the Mystics probably would have won if they had taken better care of the basketball. Holdsclaw and Bullett combined for nine of the 15 turnovers.
"We felt like we contributed to the outcome of the game," Stanley said.
If the Mystics are to win this series, they will need to contain 6-foot-4 All-Star center Tammy Sutton-Brown (11.9 points), cut off Charlotte's 3-pointers and execute better offensively.
The Sting like to dump the ball low to Sutton-Brown and then kick it outside when a double-team arrives. Going inside and then outside usually leaves a shooter open on the perimeter.
"We need them off balance and to keep changing the look [of our defense]," Stanley said. "They have experience, size and talent. If you [sag] off them, they'll hurt you. We need to play a well-rounded game. We need a good game from everybody. We have to come out and play well in the first game. That sets the tone. Win the first game, and all the pressure is back on the other team. I like our chances at home."

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