Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Alana Beard made some rookie mistakes in last night’s preseason game against Indiana. Good thing it didn’t count for the Washington Mystics’ first-year guard.

With the game tied and less than five seconds remaining, Beard threw the ball into the Indiana bench. On the Fever’s next possession, Beard fouled Kelly Miller on a drive to the basket, resulting in a three-point play as Indiana defeated the Mystics 83-80 in the first of two preseason games for Washington before 6,017 at MCI Center.

Beard finished with 17 points, five rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks.

“It was my fault, I passed where I thought the player was going to be,” Beard said. “That’s something I’ve learned about executing at the end. I learned from it.”

As expected, the first half was a shootout between Indiana’s Tamika Catchings (25 points) and the Mystics’ Chamique Holdsclaw, who led all scorers with 27 points.

Holdsclaw, who had 13 points in the first half, made her first six shots. Catchings made her first four shots — including three 3-pointers — and scored 16 points in the first half.

The biggest play of the first half involved the two franchise players. With the Mystics leading 41-39, Catchings nailed a 23-footer from the right wing and was hammered by the 6-foot-2 Holdsclaw.

Catchings calmly sank the ensuing free throw and completed a rare four-point play to give the Fever a 43-41 halftime lead.

“With the addition of Alana Beard, you watched her tonight, and both of them [Holdsclaw and Beard] together, there’s not going to be a lot of teams that can compete with them,” Catchings said.

However, the Mystics’ inability to rebound and play defense negated Holdsclaw’s and Beard’s performances. The Mystics were beaten on the glass 35-23, though the answer to some of the Mystics’ rebounding problems was sitting at the end of their bench.

Center Chasity Melvin arrived in Washington yesterday after playing in Poland during the offseason. Melvin, who averaged 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds last season for the defunct Cleveland Rockers, should start in Friday’s second preseason game at Charlotte.

Note — The Mystics waived free agent guard Jamie Redd to trim their roster to 16. The Mystics must submit their final 11-player roster (plus a two-player injured list) to the league’s office by next Wednesday.

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