- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 8, 2002

Welcome back, Chamique.
After missing two games due to the death of her grandmother, Washington Mystics star forward Chamique Holdsclaw returned to the Mystics lineup with a vengeance. Holdsclaw scored a game-high 27 points on 12-for-18 shooting as the Mystics blew out the Indiana Fever 89-68 before 14,970 last night at MCI Center.
Holdsclaw, a three-time WNBA All-Star, added seven rebounds and four assists while leading the WNBA's highest-scoring team. Holdsclaw's 27 points tied the fourth-highest individual output in Mystics history.
"I was making my shots tonight," Holdsclaw said. "I was trying to focus on my timing and attacking. When they doubled, I kicked to the open perimeter player."
The Mystics (3-1) narrowly missed scoring 90 or more points for the third time in four games. Small forward Stacey Dales-Schuman scored 13 points. Point guard Annie Burgess added 10 points, six assists and five rebounds. Brazilian guard Helen Luz came off the bench to make four of five 3-point attempts and finished with 12 points.
Despite their contributions, this night belonged to Holdsclaw.
"I thought Chamique played fabulous," first-year coach Marianne Stanley said. "Her energy was great. She was very focused. You would never know that she missed two games and seamlessly stepped right into what we've been doing." This game marked Fever guard Nikki McCray's first game back in the District since an offseason trade that sent her to Indiana. Mystics fans greeted McCray with a rousing ovation when she was introduced.
Last Dec.3, the Mystics traded McCray and second- and fourth-round draft picks in the 2002 WNBA Draft to the Fever for the fourth overall pick in April's draft, center Angie Braziel (who was placed on the priority assignment list) and a third-round pick. The Mystics took Connecticut star forward Asjha Jones with the fourth selection.
Coming into last night's game, McCray was averaging more turnovers (5.3) per game than assists (2.0) and steals (1.0) combined. In the first half, McCray was nothing more than a decoy. In 13 minutes, she made one 3-pointer and took four shots.
Despite a better second half, McCray, the Fever's second-leading scorer at 17 points, was essentially a nonfactor. She finished with 12 points and made three of five shots in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Mystics were methodically blowing out the Fever (2-2). For the second consecutive home game, the Mystics tied the franchise record for most points in a half when they went into their locker room with a comfortable 50-33 lead.
The Fever opened the game with Tamika Catchings guarding Holdsclaw. That didn't last long as Holdsclaw was hitting her mid-range jumper early and blowing past Catchings with ease. Holdsclaw showed her former Tennessee teammate no mercy, scoring 16 points in the first half on 7-for-10 shooting. Catchings, who posted a double-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, could not stop Holdsclaw.
"[Holdsclaw] put on a performance tonight, and I thought the team played well collectively," Dales-Schuman said. "I'm excited for her return."
Fever coach Nell Fortner was forced to switch center Olympia Scott-Richardson and forward Nadine Malcolm on the hot-shooting Holdsclaw, but it didn't help. The Mystics conducted an impressive first-half shooting clinic, hitting 62.5 percent from the floor, including four of seven from behind the 3-point arc.
"It's not a fluke we're sharing the basketball," Dales-Schuman said of the Mystics' first-half shooting.
The Mystics' offensive show wasn't limited to just their shooting. They racked up as many assists (13) as the Fever had baskets in the first half. Indiana made 13 of 30 shots in the first 20 minutes.


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