Dec. 10, 2009
By Michael Jeremiah
SEATTLE - A game in a hostile environment is usually won by a team effort that overcomes road issues like the Huskies faced on Wednesday night. Against a gritty Seattle U squad that shot the ball well from outside and threw off the Husky offense, Washington was able to persevere and escape with a 58-53 victory by creating turnovers in the second half and grabbing momentum at the right time. In a constant struggle in which the largest lead for either team was six points, the Huskies had two local players, forward Mackenzie Argens and guard Kristi Kingma, star in each half to lead them to victory.
In the first half it was Argens that shined for the Huskies, as she set a career-high with 10 points. Her buckets came at important times too, as she scored the first basket of the game and two others either tied the game or put the Huskies on top.
"Mackenzie was doing great things in the first half," said senior co-captain Sami Whitcomb.
She was crucial in keeping the Huskies ahead at the half 29-27. With Seattle using a 2-3 zone defense, Argens found the space in the RedHawks' defense and put life back into a Washington offense that was trying to find its groove. She continued to grease the wheels in the second half, drawing the respect of a double team and finding inside-mate Mollie Williams under the bucket for an easy basket.
Argens dealt with foul trouble in the second half, as she went to the bench with three fouls just before the 14-minute mark. When the Huskies went down for the first time in the game 38-37, Coach Tia Jackson called on the sophomore forward to provide the same push that she gave in the first half.
A productive high post player is crucial to beat a zone defense, and Argens' return to the game gave the Huskies that player. A crafty pass from Argens' to fellow post Regina Rogers led to a Kingma three, and the Huskies.
"The guards were getting the ball into [the] posts and we were going at them and not fading," said Argens.
That play was the start of a 7-0 run for Washington to take back the lead and forced Seattle U to call for time with 9:32 left.
The run was based as much on defensive pressure as offense, as the unit of Whitcomb, Christina Rozier, Rogers, Argens and Kingma held the RedHawks without a bucket for five straight possessions.
That run was the start of the Kristi Kingma show in the second half. The sophomore guard made her presence known, even though she has been hampered by a sprained ankle.
When the game was close late in the second half, Kingma came through again for the Huskies. For the second time in two games, Kingma hit three second half three pointers that were crucial to a close Husky victory.
Seattle fought back after the run by the Huskies, but Kingma again took the wind out of the RedHawks' upset attempt with two three pointers in just over a minute with gave Washington the 54-48 lead and proved to be enough as Seattle never got to within three again.
"Luckily, I was able to flip the switch," said Kingma.
Kingma was questionable for the game, but her play was important in the second half. She finished with an impressive line of nine points, four rebounds and four assists, despite being worked on by Husky trainers at the end of the bench whenever she was out of the game.
A large ice pack was wrapped around her ankle as Kingma walked with a pronounced limp to her post-game interview. Due in large part to her timely three-pointers, she walked to the interview victorious on the night.
The Huskies now have ten days off before they hit the road against Michigan State in East Lansing on December 19. Washington doesn't return home until January 7 against Arizona State.