- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 23, 2004

It’s too bad former NBA guard Michael Adams couldn’t take the potential game-tying 3-pointer for the Washington Mystics with the clock winding down last night in their season opener.

The Adams era officially began with fireworks, smoke and laser lights at MCI Center, but 40 minutes later he was still searching for his first professional coaching victory.

Mystics rookie guard Alana Beard missed long on a 3-pointer from the right corner that would have tied the game with four seconds left. Charlotte guard Andrea Stinson grabbed the rebound and ran out the clock as the Sting won 71-68 before an announced crowd of 18,232.

Forward Tynesha Lewis led five Sting players in double figures with 16 points. Allison Feaster came off the bench to contribute 15 points in her first action with the Sting since returning Friday from Europe.

The Mystics, who erased a 13-point second-half deficit, couldn’t be faulted for their effort. They will try again to give Adams his first victory in a road game tonight against the Indiana Fever.

Mystics star forward Chamique Holdsclaw led all scorers with 25 points, six rebounds and five steals. Point guard Tamicha Jackson scored 10 of her 17 points in the second half. In her professional debut, Beard contributed 10 points on 3-for-10 shooting and four blocks.

“Jackson was a catalyst in the second half,” Adams said. “Her offense really helped keep the team in the game. She is not really a scorer, but I hope that the other players will follow her lead in the games to come.”

A controversial noncall changed the outcome of this game. With the Sting leading 69-68, Beard blocked Stinson’s jumper from the top of the key with five seconds left on the shot clock. Stinson retrieved the ball, dribbled twice and simply threw the ball back up off the backboard. Replays showed Stinson didn’t get the shot off in time, but no violation was called.

Sting forward Charlotte Smith-Taylor grabbed Stinson’s miss, and the Mystics were forced to foul David Thompson’s niece with 8.8 seconds left. Smith-Taylor made both shots to give the Sting a three-point lead.

“I thought it was [a shot-clock violation], but I don’t get paid to officiate,” Holdsclaw said. “They’re the ones that are in charge. I’m going to say it was a violation, but the referees have the final say.”

Washington trailed 29-24 at the break against a team that had lost to Houston the night before. In the first 20 minutes, the Mystics turned the ball over nine times, shot 37.9 percent (11 of 29) from the floor and made just one trip to the free throw line.

Point guard Jackson, perhaps the most unlikely scorer in the Mystics lineup, led the team with seven points in the half. Holdsclaw added six on 3-for-9 shooting.

The Mystics’ downfall in the first 20 minutes was a five-minute scoring drought. In the final 7:52, Washington made three of 12 shots from the floor. With the Mystics trailing 27-21, Jackson nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 26 seconds left that ended the dry spell.

However, the Sting bolted to a 46-33 lead in the second half before the Mystics woke up. Staring at a blowout situation in their own building, Washington stepped up its defense and cut the deficit to 46-41 with 13:16 left. Charlotte helped out by turning over the ball in the open floor, allowing the Mystics to dash the other way for easy layups and eventually take the lead.

“We got a little careless. They upped their defensive pressure. We had a series of turnovers,” Sting coach Trudi Lacey said. “We missed some open shots. We had some pretty good looks, and they were able to get out and run on us. But for the most part, we kept our composure.”

But then the Mystics faltered down the stretch. Leading 66-61 lead with 3:17 left following a layup by Jackson, the Mystics were outscored 10-2 the rest of the way. Over the final 4:56, the Sting went 10-for-10 at the line.

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