Mercury rises past Mystics in 86-69 victory Phoenix firepower drops Washington to 1-6 in WNBA


WASHINGTON -- Introduced as representatives of the "most powerful city in the world," the WNBA Washington Mystics had trouble dealing with foreign visitors yesterday in an 86-69 loss to the Phoenix Mercury at the MCI Center.

In the first half, 6-foot-5 German center Marlies Askamp was the difficulty -- she scored all 12 of her points in the half. In the second half, 6-8 Russian center Maria Stepanova came off the bench late to score all 11 of hers. She also had two blocked shots and six rebounds in 10 minutes.

Australian Michele Timms contributed 10 points from the backcourt for the Mercury.

Despite the international flavor, the chief architect of the triumph was American-made -- Florida graduate Bridgette Pettis.

Pettis delighted the crowd of 15,191 with a game-high 23 points -- 17 in the second half -- and made several nifty moves, including a behind-the-back scoring shot.

"I've been practicing that awhile," Pettis said, laughing. "When I get a chance to do it, I do it. I don't do it often because I've been trying to be team-oriented."

Washington, meanwhile, is still trying to get untracked after falling to 1-6.

"Washington has a lot of talent," Mercury coach Cheryl Miller said, "and I wouldn't want to play them in the middle of the season."

Rookie Murriel Page led Washington with 18 points. Penny Moore and Nikki McCray, a former American Basketball League MVP, each scored 15.

"I expected us to be competitive even though we were a new team," Washington coach Jim Lewis said. "We're dealing with human beings here. I'm concerned that some confidence may be beginning to erode and we have to make sure we can keep it up."

Pub Date: 6/29/98

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