- The Washington Times - Friday, June 14, 2002

Vicky Bullett, the Washington Mystics' elder stateswoman, made two huge 3-pointers in the final 2:27 to preserve a tight 70-64 victory over the Houston Comets before 14,004 last night at MCI Center.

Behind Bullett's late-game shooting, the Mystics (5-1) are off to the franchise's best start and remain undefeated at home (4-0). This was the first time in nine tries that the Mystics have beaten the Comets. Only the Los Angeles Sparks (6-1) have a better record than the Mystics.

The Mystics don't have much time to savor this important victory because they're in Cleveland tonight to take on the struggling Rockers (1-3) the second of six scheduled instances of back-to-back games this season.

With the Mystics clinging to a 62-59 lead and 2:27 left, Bullett nailed an 3-pointer from the left corner that pushed the Mystics lead back to five points. With 1:37 left and the Mystics holding a 65-62 lead, Bullett struck again. This time it was a 3-pointer from the top of the key that gave the Mystics a four-point, 68-62 lead with time winding down.

The Mystics freed Bullett for her clutch shots on the oldest play in basketball the pick and roll. Comets center Tiffani Johnson didn't come out on Bullett and the Maryland graduate made the Comets pay.

"She gave me just a little too much room, you've got to help and recover, and they just never recovered on the open shooter," said Bullett, who finished with 10 points and six rebounds.

The Mystics survived a second-half scoring frenzy from Comets center Tina Thompson. Thompson scored 14 of her team-high 18 points in the second half. The 6-foot-2 Thompson was able to keep the Comets within striking distance throughout the second half.

Mystics forward Chamique Holdsclaw was the major factor in the first half. Holdsclaw, a three-time all-star, totally dominated the Comets in the first 20 minutes. Holdsclaw scored 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting. The Mystics' undisputed leader added four rebounds and two assists to her impressive first-half line. The WNBA's leading scorer and rebounder finished with a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds.

"In their transition defense, they weren't matching up," Holdsclaw said. "If you're not going to guard me OK. Maybe she can't shoot, maybe she can. I was taking the shots."

Holdsclaw's hot hand freed the rest of the Mystics to play their games in the first half. Super sub Helen Luz came off the bench and nailed two 3-pointers in nine minutes of action. Point guard Annie Burgess racked up five assists with no turnovers in the half.

The Mystics shot 53.6 percent (15 of 28) in the half. With Holdsclaw on fire, the Mystics took a 36-31 lead at halftime.

The Mystics opened this game as if they were going to blow out the four-time WNBA champions out of the gym. The Mystics jumped out to a 13-4 lead in the first 5:03.

The Mystics simply beat the Comets down the floor and dictated pace in the early stages. The Comets adjusted accordingly in the half and stayed in the game.

Comets reserve guards Kelley Gibson, who starred at Maryland, and Coquese Washington kept the halftime score from being a double-figure deficit. Gibson and Washington combined to score 10 points in the last five minutes before halftime. Gibson finished with a career-high 12 points, including hitting four of six shots from behind the 3-point arc.

The Mystics did a great job of containing star forward Sheryl Swoopes and Thompson in the first half. Dales-Schuman defended Swoopes and limited the Comets leading scorer to just six points on three of nine from the floor. Holdsclaw guarded Thompson to just four points on 2-for-6 shooting.

For the game, the Comets' biggest guns shot a combined 13-for-39 from the floor. Swoopes matched her season-low with 10 points on 5-for-18 shooting.

"I felt I had to contain her [Swoopes]," Dales-Schuman said. "She loves to go left, so I tried to push her right. She has such a quick release that contesting her shot was crucial. I thought I got a hand in her face."

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