- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 12, 2004

Three games removed from their biggest victory of the season, it appeared the Washington Mystics would be able to steal a season sweep from the Detroit Shock last night at MCI Center. But in the contest’s last five minutes, the gap between the two teams became painfully obvious.

Detroit scored the game’s last 15 points, turning a one-point deficit into a 74-60 win before an announced crowd of 13,423.

Chamique Holdsclaw scored 20 for the Mystics (2-5), but Washington’s other starters posted 17 points — the same number as Detroit’s bench.

Washington led much of the second half, but it seemed the Shock were just waiting for a chance to steal the game — and they found it right underneath the hoop.

The Shock outrebounded the Mystics 38-31 and outscored them 42-30 in the lane. Whenever Detroit needed a basket, it could count on getting a too-easy drive to the rim.

“[Their post play] was huge,” Washington coach Michael Adams said. “Down the stretch, they got some plays inside that hurt us, and that was the game.”

The Mystics led 60-59 with less than five minutes left, but Cheryl Ford was fouled on a layup attempt underneath the hoop. After making the first free throw, she missed the second, but Elaine Powell grabbed a long rebound just inside the 3-point line and found Deanna Nolan for a jumper that gave the Shock a two-point lead.

The next time down the court, Nolan dropped a 3-pointer before making three open layups. The guard scored 10 straight points for Detroit, and the Shock had a 12-point lead with 36 seconds left.

Washington didn’t score during the game’s final 4:42 and missed its last seven shots from the floor.

“We’re one of the biggest teams in the league,” Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said. “When we get the rebound, and get out on the break, here we go.”

Rookie Alana Beard, starting at the point for the first time, yielded control of the offense the offense to usual starter Tamicha Jackson for large stretches of the game. Jackson, who strained her hamstring in Detroit on June 2, provided 10 points and four assists off the bench, compared to Beard’s six and four.

Nakia Sanford, making her third start this season at center, played just 11 minutes. Sanford was slow to get up after several collisions, but said she felt fine.

“I can’t really speak to [why I didn’t play],” she said. “I don’t know what [Adams’] game plan was.”

The Shock opened the game with an 8-2 run and hit 10 of their first 14 shots, but missed seven straight in a five-minute stretch without a field goal. During the span, Washington used a 9-3 run to take a 27-24 lead, but Detroit (4-3) rallied to tie the game at 33 by halftime.

Holdsclaw opened the second period by scoring seven straight points. Washington took a six-point lead, its biggest of the game, on a Stacey Dales-Schuman jumper with 15:39 in the second half. Detroit used a string of easy baskets to take a one-point lead on Ford’s layup with 9:32 left. During their 11-4 run, the Shock hit three layups and three free throws, needing only to convert one jumper.

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