- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 24, 2003

Chamique Holdsclaw deservedly took home WNBA player of the week honors Monday after scoring 24 points in each of the Washington Mystics’ three wins last week.

Perhaps more important, though, has been the way the Mystics’ supporting cast has performed during their recent turnaround.

Washington (5-15) has had at least four players score in double figures in four of the last five games, including Tuesday’s last-minute 77-73 loss at Los Angeles that snapped its three-game win streak.

“We had an opportunity to beat L.A. and it’s unfortunate we didn’t because we played extremely well,” Mystics coach Marianne Stanley said. “We’ll take the good part that we battled the defending champions on their court and move on. We can’t look backwards.”

Washington will again need production throughout its lineup when the team faces the Indiana Fever tonight at MCI Center in a nationally televised game on ESPN2.

Besides Holdsclaw (20.1 points), the two biggest contributors have been Coco Miller (13.4) and Stacey Dales-Schuman (10.4). Washington also has received double-digit performances lately from Asjha Jones, Murriel Page and even point guard Annie Burgess, who ended a four-game scoreless skid with a 15-point outburst against New York on July15.

“This team is at its best when we get production from a lot of players,” Holdsclaw said last week. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s better to share the wealth.”

After beating San Antonio 85-77 on the road Saturday, Washington headed to Los Angeles and nearly pulled out its first ever victory at Staples Center on Tuesday. The Mystics jumped out to a 45-37 halftime lead over the depleted Sparks, who were missing their two leading scorers — Lisa Leslie and Tamecka Dixon — to knee injuries.

The two-time defending champions woke up in the second half, and the game was tied heading into the final minute.

Los Angeles took the lead on a layup from DeLisha Milton with 34 seconds left and Holdsclaw misfired on two chances to tie it in the final 18 seconds.

“We were up eight at halftime, and you don’t squander that type of lead and expect to win,” Stanley said.

Now the Mystics, who spent much of yesterday flying, must quickly regroup and prepare to beat the Fever to avoid the start of another losing streak.

In the teams’ previous meeting on May31, Indiana knocked off Washington 71-60 in the season’s second game. The Fever had five players in double figures, led by Tamika Catchings’ 15 points. Catchings leads Indiana in scoring at 19.1 points, followed by forward Natalie Williams at 12.5 points.

“Catchings is as good a player as you can find in this league,” Stanley said. “She just plays with so much heart. She’s relentless.”

Tonight’s game will reunite Catchings and Holdsclaw, who were college teammates at Tennessee and won national titles together in 1997 and 1998.

While both stars will certainly affect the game’s outcome, it may be the teams’ role players that make the difference.

“They’re a team that has good balance,” Stanley said. “It’ll be important for us to continue to get everyone involved.”

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