March 16, 2010
Washington To Host Portland In Opening Round Of Inaugural WBI
The Washington women's basketball team (12-17, 7-12) will make a run at postseason glory Wednesday when they host Portland (18-12, 7-7 West Coast Conference) in the first round of the inaugural Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI). The Huskies are the No. 3 seed in the 16-team tournament, and will take on the Pilots at 6 p.m. at Bank of America Arena.
This season marks the first postseason appearance for the Huskies in four years, as well as the first for Jackson.
The winner of the contest will advance to play the winner of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Cal State Bakersfield, who play on Wednesday in Texas.
Live Game Coverage
Every Husky game is broadcast live on radio in the Seattle area on KKNW 1150 AM. Steve Sandmeyer will handle all play-by-play duties while Elise Woodward will provide color analysis.
The radio broadcast and a statistical GameTracker will also be provided live on the Internet via GoHuskies.com.
Coach Tia Jackson's weekly press conference will be replayed on UWTV (Husky Hoops Talk) this Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
Last Time Out For Washington
Sami Whitcomb scored a game-high 18 points, but the Huskies could not blunt an Oregon State rally and fell in the opening round of the Pac-10 Tournament, 54-42, at the Galen Center on March 11. In the final game of her storied career at Washington, Whitcomb was impressive for much of the night, hitting her first five shots of the game as the Huskies stormed out to a 20-2 lead. She passed Renee Avelino to move to 16th place on the Huskies all-time scoring list, and also topped the 1,200-point barrier.
But the Beavers, whom UW beat twice in the regular season, responded with an impressive rally, answering the Huskies best punch and forcing turnovers on defense. Washington fell to 4-9 in Pac-10 Tournament games, and 1-1 against Oregon State.
A Quick Season Recap
Washington entered the Pac-10 Tournament as the No. 7 seed, having won its last three games, before suffering a tough 52-42 loss to Oregon State in the opening round of the tournament.
To start the three-game win streak, the Huskies snapped a six-game losing skid with a 70-54 rout of rival Washington State at home, which came after a sweep at the Los Angeles schools. This trip came after an OT loss to Cal and a 58-36 defeat at the hands of No. 2 Stanford at Bank of America Arena. Prior to the homestand, the Huskies were swept away in Arizona, where a tough OT loss to ASU preceded an 80-50 decision in Tucson to Arizona.
Washington's last win came at WSU in OT on Jan. 29, which took the sting off a pair of losses by the same 69-65 score to UCLA and USC at home, despite the Huskies holding halftime leads in both games. The pair of defeats added up to a four-game skid after a sweep in the previous series at Cal and Stanford.
UW led the Bears 25-24 at halftime before struggling with turnover issues in the second half in a 60-43 defeat. Against the Cardinal, the Huskies could not overcome a slow start in a 66-51 defeat in Palo Alto.
The Cal loss snapped the Huskies' three-game win streak. It was first time since 2008 that UW had taken Pac-10 games in a row, which they accomplished after sweeping Arizona and Arizona State and a road split of the Oregon schools, culminating in a 69-64 victory at Oregon State in Corvallis. This helped take the sting off a tough 82-71 loss to Oregon, where a second-half UW rally fell short.
The Huskies came away with a split of their two games in Michigan, falling to then-nationally ranked Michigan State 69-52 in East Lansing in the first contest before toppling Mid-American Conference foe Western Michigan, 71-63, in nearby Kalamazoo.
A trip to Florida earned the squad a split against USF and UCF, and then Washington returned to the Northwest to grit out a 58-53 win over city rival Seattle University. The Huskies started the year with a late loss at Portland State when Vikings forward Kelli Valentine hit a 15-footer with .3 seconds remaining to give PSU a 67-66 win. Washington rebounded with a win over Brigham Young, which featured a gutsy performance from Whitcomb, who scored the last 12 points of the game and hit a late 3 with 4.0 seconds remaining to propel UW.
But the Huskies could not sustain the momentum on the road, falling 81-52 to Gonzaga in Spokane on Nov. 22. The team then responded with a 64-46 win over Eastern Washington in the first round of the Husky Classic before losing in the tournament finale to Sacramento State.
• Portland is coached by Jim Sollars, who has been with the program since 1986. The Pilots finished the regular season 18-12 and 7-7 in the West Coast Conference. They are the No. 6 seed in the WBI West Region.
• Portland is playing in the postseason for the second straight year, after reaching the first round of the WNIT last season. It's the 10th time the Pilots have made the postseason all-time, and the 7th as a NCAA Division I program. The Pilots, who went 17-14 last year, put together back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in 10 years.
• The Pilots are coming off a 74-61 upset loss to Santa Clara in the quarterfinals of the WCC Championships. Portland held a 36-31 halftime lead but were outscored 43-25 in the second half.
• Senior guard Laiken Dollente leads Portland with 16.6 points per game, as well as a sparkling .924 free-throw percentage (146-158). She was named to the All-West Coast Conference First Team for the third time in her career. The Yakima, Wash. native is No. 3 all-time at Portland with 1,863 career points.
Series Record: Washington is 8-0 against the Pilots, with the most recent victory coming Nov. 26, 1999, when the Huskies took a 64-50 win at a tournament in Honolulu. UW is 4-0 against Portland all-time at Bank of America Arena, though the two teams have not met in Seattle since a 71-61 Husky victory way back on Jan. 21, 1986.
Noteworthy: Current UW assistant coach Loree Payne previously coached at Portland in the same capacity... The Pilots and Huskies faced six common opponents this year. Portland lost to Eastern Washington, Oregon, BYU and Gonzaga while beating Sacramento State and Seattle University....Portland and UW are scheduled to play one another in the regular season in 2010-2011 at Portland.
Up Next For The Huskies
Should the Huskies win, they would travel to either Texas A&M Corpus Christi or Cal-State Bakersfield on March 20 or 21, depending on who wins that side of the bracket.