- The Washington Times - Monday, June 14, 2004

Chamique Holdsclaw struggled all game with her shot. But that didn’t stop Washington’s franchise player from taking — and making — the biggest shot of the Mystics’ young season in the final seconds.

Holdsclaw swished a foul line jumper over New York forward Crystal Robinson with 2.4 seconds left to boost the Mystics over the Liberty 62-60 yesterday before 8,784 at the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center.

Holdsclaw missed 13 of her first 19 shots, but the late jumper snapped a two-game losing streak for the Mystics (3-5). The victory technically was the Mystics’ first at home this season even though it wasn’t played at MCI Center because of a Madonna concert last night.

“We were going to go with a pick-and-roll to Alana [Beard] or Chamique and then decided just to give it to our best player,” first-year coach Michael Adams said. “It was, ‘Give it to Chamique no matter what.’”

With the game tied with 8.3 seconds left, Holdsclaw received the inbounds pass at the top of the key. Robinson, a 5-foot-11 fifth-year pro, played off Holdsclaw because the WNBA’s leading scorer displayed little ability to hit a jumper yesterday. So Holdsclaw took three dribbles to the left and pulled up along the foul line for the game winner.

“I just saw the basket. I mean that’s my shot. I like the left side of the floor, the one dribble pull up,” said Holdsclaw, who finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds for her 58th career double-double.

The victory also required a couple of huge defensive plays from Mystics guard Stacey Dales-Schuman in the final 16 seconds. After Holdsclaw’s basket, she blocked a 17-foot jumper from the right wing by Vickie Johnson with two-tenths of a second left to preserve the victory.

Earlier, Dales-Schuman stole an errant Liberty outlet pass with 15.2 seconds left when Beard, a 73.3 percent free throw shooter, missed two foul shots that could have padded the Mystics’ 58-57 lead. Liberty center Tari Phillips unloaded an ill-advised pass to Johnson, and Dales-Schuman simply stepped in front of it near the scorer’s table and killed the Liberty’s late-game momentum.

“Obviously, we made a judgment mistake, and it was a crucial mistake,” Liberty coach Richie Adubato said.

Dales-Schuman was fouled immediately and sank both free throws. Without the turnover, the Liberty (6-3) could have milked the clock and settled for the final shot of the game.

“It goes back to the instinctual thought process,” Dales-Schuman said. “I think Alana may have tipped it, or it got shuffled in the mix. I didn’t think of anything but securing the basketball.”

The Mystics then survived a costly defensive breakdown when Liberty point guard Becky Hammon came off a screen and drained a 3-pointer to tie the game and set up Holdsclaw’s heroics.

“What we have to work out is why Becky Hammon hit that 3-pointer on the other end,” Dales-Schuman said.

Mystics center Chasity Melvin came off the bench to score a season- and game-high 15 points on 6-for-8 shooting. The Mystics’ bench outscored the Liberty’s 32-9.

Also, the Mystics reversed one of their major woes this season by outrebounding the Liberty 40-26, setting a season high in offensive (17) and total rebounds.

“We should have never been in that position,” said Robinson, who finished with 12 points. “The 17 offensive rebounds they had killed us. We would have won that game easy if we could have rebounded better.”

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