Bullett's late three helps Mystics ride wave of 63-59 win

She scores game-high 22 as Washington rallies to fend off woeful Shock

Pro Basketball

July 19, 2002|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - The surfers say that you've caught "big air" when you're propelled high into the sky over a wave. In that vein, Vicky Bullett caught some big air on a couple of big shots yesterday to propel the Washington Mystics to a surprisingly hard-fought 63-59 win over the Detroit Shock.

Bullett, who had a game-high 22 points, hit a pair of high-arcing, long-range three-pointers to bail the Mystics (15-6) out of a potentially devastating loss to the worst team in the WNBA, before a sellout crowd of 19,766 to boot.

"I had a terrible game against New York [Saturday] and I just wasn't myself," said Bullett, the former Maryland star. "You redeem yourself. I don't care who the next team was. I probably would have had the same mentality to come out there and play hard. Everyone has to continue to step up."

Bullett, who hit 10 of 11 shots and had eight rebounds, hit a three-pointer from 30 feet with 9:42 to go to break a 47-47 tie. Her most important "big air" shot, however, came with 20.7 seconds to go and the Mystics trailing by two.

On the possession, the Shock (3-17) did a fine job of taking away all of Washington's inside and intermediate options, so Bullett, a career 29 percent three-point shooter who is hitting 40 percent this year, drifted out high in the offensive set. With three seconds left on the 30-second shot clock, Bullett launched a shot from about 25 feet that soared high and seemed to float interminably before settling in the net, giving Washington a 60-59 lead.

"There might have been three or four seconds left on the [shot] clock, and we went through our offense," said Bullett, who is 14-for-33 from three-point range this year. "They shut everyone down. I just kind of hesitated and popped out. I was way out. I wouldn't defend myself way out there. I've done that a few times with those last few second shots. I'm just lucky they are going in."

Said Washington coach Marianne Stanley: "Vicky's not bashful. She was aware of the time. You have to put up a shot or you're going to have a turnover. That one was pretty deep, though. I think that qualifies as out of the District and into Montgomery County."

Bullett's heroics came as the Mystics played a second straight game without leading scorer and rebounder Chamique Holdsclaw (ankle injury) and point guard Annie Burgess (strained calf). The Mystics shot themselves out of sync, especially in the first half when they took quick shots, allowing Detroit to get rebounds and transition baskets. The Shock out-rebounded Washington 44-35 as Shock rookie Swin Cash had 16 points and 15 rebounds.

"With Detroit, any one of the five can take it," Stanley said. "You saw Swin do that several times. They were just running and we were helping them by shooting too quickly and not moving on defense and making it more difficult."

The Mystics, who never led by more than six, slowed the tempo in the second half and out-rebounding Detroit 19-16 to avoid their second two-game losing skid of the year.

More significantly, the win gave Washington a franchise record for victories in a season, with 11 games to play, moving the team one step closer to a playoff berth and respectability.

"We finally have the team that we felt like we always had," said forward Murriel Page, the last remaining original player from the Mystics five seasons ago. "Now, instead of people calling us the Mistakes, they're actually giving us a chance. Marianne put this pink slip on the wall that had us finishing last. Now, we're No. 1 in the East. We're showing people that we're not a joke anymore."

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