Nov. 18, 2005
TUSCALOOSA, ALA. - Led by 13 points apiece from junior Cameo Hicks and sophomore Dominique Banks, Washington women's basketball edged Alabama, 56-52, in both teams' season opener at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Friday evening.
The Huskies (1-0) overcame a poor shooting night with scrappy play down the stretch to come away with the victory. Washington only shot 27.9 percent from the field, but pulled down 25 offensive boards and forced the Crimson Tide (0-1) to commit 19 turnovers. Hicks led all UW rebounders with nine boards, including six on the offensive glass. Banks added six rebounds and senior guard Kristen O'Neill added 12 points and five rebounds.
"We are excited to come down here and get a win against a very good SEC team," UW head coach June Daugherty said. "This is a team that is extremely athletic, extremely well coached and we knew we would have our hands full. We feel privileged to come out of here with a win."
The score was tied twice with just under five minutes left in the game, but each time it was the Huskies who pulled away. Banks hit a big three-pointer at the four-minute mark to give UW a 50-47 advantage. After sophomore forward Andrea Plouffe sank a pair of free-throws, the Crimson Tide came back to tie on a basket from Harriet Barnes and two made free-throws from Dee Merriweather.
Then it was Hicks who gave UW the bucket they needed with two minutes remaining to go ahead, 54-52. UW held possession down the stretch by dominating the offensive glass. Banks and Hicks both were 1-of-2 from the free throw line to seal the four-point win.
The close final score was not indicative of the start of the game. The Huskies came out firing, opening with a 14-4 run in the first four minutes. Hicks fueled the run with eight points and scored a total of 10 points in the first six minutes. UW appeared to be cruising, taking as much as a 12-point lead twice in the first half.
A momentum switch occurred when the game was stopped at the 11:27 minute mark for several minutes due to an apparent neck injury to Alabama's Navonda Moore. Moore was taken away on a stretcher for immediate medical attention. When the game resumed it was the Crimson Tide that picked up some fire, coming back to take a 1-point lead into halftime (33-32).
Alabama's leading scorer Lauren Hill single-handedly took down the Huskies in that late first-half run, scoring 14 points in the final four minutes and 41 seconds. She scored the Tide's final 10 points of the half including 10 consecutive and back-to-back three-pointers.
Washington shot 37.5 percent from the field in the first half, but plummeted to shoot just 19.4 percent in the second half. After the intermission, UW connected on just seven field goals, but four were from behind the arc.
The second half featured three lead changes, with neither team leading by more than five points. UW held the largest lead of the half, 52-47, with just over three minutes remaining.
The Huskies' starting lineup featured the return of sophomore point guard Emily Florence who missed the Nov. 6 exhibition game with a sprained thumb. Sophomore forward Andrea Plouffe also received her first career starting nod.
Hill led all Alabama scorers with 17 points and nine rebounds. Merriweather added a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds.
The Huskies continue their season opening road swing, traveling farther East to face Florida State, Sunday, Nov. 20, at 11 a.m. PT.