Feb. 20, 2010
LOS ANGELES - No matter the circumstances this season, the Huskies have managed to pull a few rallies out of their bag of tricks. This game was no different, as UW responded to a skittish first half with a valiant effort in the final 20 minutes.
But Washington could not find an answer for Jacki Gemelos, who led the Trojans to a 56-51 win over UW at the Galen Center on Saturday night. The McDonald's All-American who has come back from a slew of ACL injuries and is playing for the first time in four seasons at USC. Playing with a cumbersome brace on her knee, Gemelos nevertheless showcased her talent with a flurry of jumpers, runners and daggers from deep, scoring a team-high 13 points off the bench.
Kristi Kingma led the Huskies with 15 points. The sophomore from Mill Creek, Wash., tied her season-high in field goals (six) and 3-pointers (three). Sami Whitcomb was held to just five points, but did her damage at a critical juncture, tying the game at 51 in the final two minutes of the game with a tough jumper in front of Briana Gilbreath, the Trojans' best defender. But perhaps the best effort from the Huskies came from Mollie Williams, who posted a career-best 10 rebounds in addition to eight points.
When asked to pinpoint the reason for the loss, the Huskies sixth in a row, Coach Tia Jackson pointed to rebounding. The Trojans are the worst team in that category in the Pac-10, yet out-gained Washington on the glass, 36 to 30. More importantly, USC did its damage on the O-boards, corralling 16. Those second chances are deflating for a team expending so much energy on defense.
"Our kids are getting better every single game. They're learning to compete," Jackson said. "But it is little things, like giving up offensive rebounds. That was the hammer that did it; took the wind out of our sails, big time."
Trailing by three with 18.2 seconds remaining, the Huskies could not get a shot off and instead turned the ball over, forcing Whitcomb to foul Ashley Corral, who hit a pair from the line to seal the win.
Despite Washington's rally, they could not overcome a slow start to the game. Outside of Kingma, Washington had trouble mustering firepower against the Trojans' zone defense in the first half. Yet, despite the icy conditions on offense, the Huskies went into the locker room trailing by just six, 28-22.
Another bugaboo for the Huskies in that opening stanza was foul trouble, particularly with the posts. Laura McLellan, Mackenzie Argens and Regina Rogers were each saddled with two fouls, forcing UW to utilize a smaller lineup.
The Huskies will return home to Seattle to finish out the final leg of the season, starting when they entertain the Cougars at Bank of America Arena on Feb. 27 at 2 p.m.