Mystics shocked back to reality Poor shooting, 24-9 run pave way to 70-57 defeat

Women's Pro Basketball

June 22, 1998|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON -- If Friday night's Women's NBA sold-out home opener was about pomp and circumstance for the Washington Mystics, then last night's meeting with the Detroit Shock was about getting back to the basics of playing basketball.

By that test, the Mystics failed, with a 70-57 loss to the fellow expansion team at the MCI Center last night.

A holiday crowd of 14,314 saw the Mystics (1-4) shoot a dismal 34 percent from the field, hit only two of 14 three-pointers, and make only 13 of 24 free throws.

Worse than that, they saw a home team that, off Friday's emotional 85-76 win over Utah, turned in a listless effort, filled with mental lapses and poor decision-making.

"I told the team I would tell you all [the media] as a group that we were not ready to play. That's an obvious understatement," said Washington coach Jim Lewis. "We just didn't have the mental effort to do the kinds of things that these professionals are capable of doing."

He got no argument from his players.

"Friday, we had the music booming [in the locker room], we were singing. Everybody was excited. [Yesterday,] we just kind of chilled out," said guard Penny Moore, who led the Mystics with 18 points. "When we went for warm-ups, we were going through the motions. When we started the game, we were not ready."

Whatever the cause, the Shock seized upon it, jumping to a 24-9 lead in the first 10 minutes and taking a 37-23 edge to the dressing room at the half.

"We knew coming in that they played Cleveland to a tough loss. I don't know why we came out flat, but we did. We never could get anything going," said Mystics guard Nikki McCray, who had 12 points on just 3-for-16 shooting.

"Washington has such a great team athletically with Nikki, so the game plan was to throw their game plan off," said Detroit coach/general manager Nancy Lieberman-Cline. "You can't really throw Nikki off, but we tried to control her and make her take bad shots."

Things didn't get better in the second half. Moore hit a three-pointer with just under five minutes to go to cut Detroit's lead to 13, but Shock rookie guard Korie Hlede, who had a game-high 20 points, hit a three with 2: 40 to go, taking the lead back to 14.

Discouraged, Lewis ordered his team not to foul in the final 1: 30, essentially conceding the contest. His challenge before Thursday's game at Detroit is to get his team believing in the power of effort.

Last night's game film should serve as confirmation.

"The fans know we can play much better because they saw it Friday," Moore said. "They'll come back and we'll be ready because we don't want this to happen on our home court again."

Pub Date: 6/22/98

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