Dec. 9, 2009
SEATTLE - Playing in front of a hostile crowd and in a packed gym, the Washington women's basketball team found a way to escape with a win.
It wasn't necessarily pretty at times, but the Huskies made the plays when it counted in their 58-53 win over Seattle University at the Connolly Center on Wednesday night. Mackenzie Argens scored 10 first-half points - a season-high - to lead UW on offense.
But it was the timely play of Kristi Kingma down the stretch that helped the Huskies (4-4) pull away. The sophomore guard hit a flurry of 3-pointers late in the second half that helped ease the tension of the taut contest. Despite playing with a sprained ankle that wouldn't allow her to practice this week, Kingma was instrumental in allowing the Huskies to solve a difficult SU zone defense.
"Luckily I was able to flip the switch," Kingma said.
Washington appeared to suffer a little from jet lag after a near 5,000-mile road trip to Florida this past weekend. This road trip paled in comparison in length (just six miles to the Capitol Hill neighborhood and back), but presented a unique challenge given the intra-city aspect of the rivalry, as well as the intimate confines of the Connolly Center, which featured a sell-out crowd of 1,050 fans.
Fortunately, the Huskies scored enough points without a strong night from Sami Whitcomb, who scored just seven points and was clearly the focus of the SU defense strategy. Whitcomb made up for the off-night in other areas, finishing with eight rebounds and team-high five assists.
"The shots just weren't falling for me," Whitcomb said. "I wasn't forcing anything, but they weren't falling either."
The Huskies made a more concerted effort to get the ball to post Regina Rogers in the second half as well. The redshirt sophomore responded with several clutch baskets, and gave Washington a decided edge on the glass (nine rebounds).
"They ended up using their posts really well, and in turn ended up playing a pretty good second half," said coach Tia Jackson.
One area Washington did not overlook was the importance of the game. Seattle University is making the transition to Division I status, and had this game circled on their calendars all season. But Washington was prepared for their intensity going in.
"We know a lot of them and we know what they're capable of," Whitcomb said.
RedHawks leading scorer Ashley Brown tallied a game-high 19 points in the loss. The forward connected on 5-of-14 3-pointers. Cassidy Murillo rode a hot first half on her way to 16 points. But SU (2-9) received little production from everyone else, including their bench, which Washington outscored 18-4.
The Huskies played without Sara Mosiman (shin splints), Liz Lay (knee tendinitis), Lydia Young (knee surgery) and Amanda Johnson (knee surgery). All four players traveled with the team. Support for the Huskies included several student-athletes from other sports, including Abdul Gaddy from the men's basketball team and Tamari Miyashiro from volleyball. Ex-basketball assistant Cameron Dollar, who now is the head coach at Seattle U, was also in the house.
Washington will have a chance to rest a few bumps and bruises over the course of the next 10 days. The team does not play again until Dec. 19 at Michigan State in East Lansing.