Feb. 18, 2006
When the Huskies' leading scorer Cameo Hicks came down with the flu, Coach Daugherty turned to senior Kristen O'Neill to fill Hicks' shoes in the starting lineup in Saturday's game against Oregon State.
A starter in each of the previous two seasons, and at the start of 2005-06 campaign, O'Neill had shined since moving to the bench in mid-December, and had reached double figures in scoring in five of the Huskies' previous 10 games.
With a chance to make what could be her final career start, in her final home game, O'Neill responded in dominating fashion, racking up 17 points - just two shy of her career-high -- and seven boards, in 34 minutes of play.
In a game where the Huskies shot only 32.4 percent from the field, the veteran O'Neill provided solid shooting, going 5-of-12 from the field and 7-of-8 from the line. Though shooting, and making, three-pointers is normally her specialty, in Saturday's game the senior went 0-for-3 from behind the stripe. Instead, she converted three-point plays the old fashioned way -- driving into the lane, making the lay-in, drawing the foul, and sinking the free throw.
"[Cameo] brings a lot of offense to the floor so I knew I had to step up," O'Neill said afterward. "But that's what I've been trying to do all year."
O'Neill showed her veteran smarts on numerous occasions, picking up two steals and a block in the game, along with three offensive boards. Her presence on the floor kept Washington under control when Oregon State made a late run to close a 20-point UW lead to just nine with just under seven minutes to play. O'Neill's final game at Bank of America Arena showed why she is so valuable to this young squad, and why she will surely be missed.
"It was just a lot of fun to play in front of all of my friends and family and the Seattle community," she said. "It was really special and it was nice to be able to contribute on both ends of the floor."