- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 19, 2003

SAN ANTONIO — This was the kind of victory that every coach loves, the kind that instills confidence and leads to a long win streak.

The Washington Mystics, already winners of their last two games, held their ground and maintained speed against a furious San Antonio Silver Stars rally to prevail 85-77.

The victory improved the Mystics to 5-14 as they head to Los Angeles to play the Sparks on Tuesday evening. The Silver Stars lost for the fourth consecutive game and fell to 6-14.

Chamique Holdsclaw led four Mystics in double figures with 24 points. Jennifer Azzi scored 17 for San Antonio.

The Mystics didn’t fold early in the second half even as the crowd of 11,530 at SBC Center begged for Washington miscues and crooked shots.

The Mystics extended a 43-36 intermission lead into a 54-43 advantage at the first mandatory timeout of the second half.

When Asjha Jones connected on a three-pointer with 13:32 to go, the margin was 60-47. However, the Silver Stars rallied and scored the next six points.

The comeback continued as San Antonio’s Semeka Randall drove the length of the court for a layup to cut the lead to 64-60.

Mystic coach Marianne Stanley called timeout.

It did no good as Randall scored a conventional 3-pointer on an offensive rebound and foul.

The Silver Stars had four chances to take the lead after the teams traded baskets. But each time the Mystics forced tough shots and grabbed the defensive rebound.

They were rewarded for the good defense as Coco Miller and Murriel Page connected on open jumpers to lead 70-65.

The Mystics didn’t wilt under the growing pressure as Miller, Page and Stacey Dales-Schuman hit clutch shots to seal the victory.

Early in the game, the Mystics and in particular, Holdsclaw, had trouble finding a comfort zone inside the paint against San Antonio 7-foot-2 center Margo Dydek.

With Dydek on the court, the Silver Stars raced to a 10-4 lead three minutes into the game. San Antonio scored all its points in the post.

Meanwhile, Holdsclaw and the Mystics struggled from the perimeter and were allowed no second chances.

But Dydek committed her second foul when she elbowed Stacey Dales-Schuman on a drive to the basket. The foul occurred with 13:30 left and San Antonio leading 12-8.

The Mystics took advantage of Dydek’s absence and turned to their All-Star forward to set the tempo. Holdsclaw played point forward and scored six of the next 12 Washington points to tie the game at 20.

Soon Miller and Dales-Schuman found open spaces for jumpers and Page had elbow room inside for easy buckets.

The Mystics struck offensive success by fanning the perimeter and then cutting from the foul line to the basket. The ploy produced a handful of layups and several free throws.

Many baskets were as simple as Holdsclaw bringing the ball up past midcourt and then passing to the wing. She then beat her defender to the paint for the return pass before banking in a three-footer.

The Mystics seized their first lead at the 8:30 mark when Miller received a pass from a penetrating Holdsclaw. Miller nailed the 3-pointer and the visitors led 23-20.

When Jocelyn Penn converted two free throws, San Antonio coach Candi Harvey was forced to bring Dydek back. But the Stars center had little effect as the Mystics’ offense was stuck on high gear.

Four points by Page and a three-pointer by Miller increased the margin to 32-26. Then after Dales-Schuman connected on her own three-pointer and a running one-hander, the advantage grew to 41-33.

The Mystics closed the half on Jones’ wing jumper and skipped into the locker room ahead 43-36.

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