Nov. 16, 2009
SEATTLE - The Washington women's basketball team returned to practice Monday afternoon, determined to put their season-opening loss in the rear-view mirror.
Perhaps what is the most frustrating for the Huskies (0-1) is how much the team outplayed Portland State on Saturday at the Peter W. Stott Center. Sami Whitcomb tallied her second-career double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Sara Mosiman tied her career-high with 14 points. Sarah Morton looked at ease as the maestro of the offense, dishing off seven assists, which also tied a career-high. So much was going right for the Huskies, who then let a 12-point second-half lead evaporate on the road.
The coup de grace came on a last-second jump shot by the Vikings' Kelli Valentine, who hit a fade-away over two defenders with 0.3 seconds remaining.
One silver lining is the team only has a few days to shake off the loss and recover. Washington will entertain Brigham Young University in their home opener on Nov. 18, a short turnaround after bussing home from Portland on Saturday night. The Cougars went 18-11 last year, and return 12 letter-winners to their squad.
Before the game against the Vikings, the Huskies met with a personal friend of Coach Tia Jackson's in a conference room of their hotel in downtown Portland. The guest was Howard White, the vice-president of marketing for the Jordan brand at Nike. White regaled the team with stories about hard work and used anecdotes from high-profile athletes. But he capped the speech by saying the team had to be able to accept adversity, because sometimes results would simply not shake out their way.
"H's advice was dead-on. It was the most appropriate comment he could have made," Jackson said. "Obviously, we're looking at it more hindsight now. The only thing I can really share with the kids is that we've got something we can really hang our hat on."
There is a lot the team can take from their trip to Portland. Washington out-rebounded Portland State 43-34. The team harassed the Vikings star point guard, Claire Foucher, into eight turnovers, and held PSU to 39 percent shooting, including a parse 6-20 from 3-point range. The up-tempo system Jackson employs showed signs of consistent execution on both the offensive and defensive ends. Whitcomb was able to create most of her points in transition and off the feeds of other players, a sign of the offense's potency.
This all came without sophomore Kristi Kingma, who missed the game after coming down with an illness beforehand.
"We grew tremendously," Jackson said. "Just to see little moments in the game, we competed every single possession. That was one of our challenges this year, to make sure we go out and we know that we're going to be on the road a lot, things are not going to go our way, and that we'll be able to handle the adversity."