Nov. 20, 2009
SEATTLE - The Washington women's basketball team renews its in-state rivalry with Gonzaga on Sunday, traveling to Spokane to take on a squad with more than a few recognizable faces.
The Huskies (1-1, 0-0 Pac 10) will play the Bulldogs (2-1, 0-0 West Coast Conference) at 2 p.m. at McCarthey Athletic Center in a game that will prove a good test for a Washington team looking to make some headway in the early part of the season.
The intensity of this early season matchup will be compounded by the familiarity between the two teams, many of whom are Washington natives who played against each other in high school as well. Given the schools are separated by just 280 miles and a mountain pass, it's no secret there is a rivalry between the two.
"We all know each other," said senior Sara Mosiman. "It'll be an advantage for both teams, so it will balance out."
Bulldog forward Katelan Redmon played at UW in 2007-08 before transferring to Gonzaga. Senior Vivian Frieson is a Seattle native who played at nearby Garfield High School and Bulldogs PG Courtney Vandersloot grew up in the South Puget Sound area (Kent). The Huskies' Jeneva Anderson grew up in Spokane and went to the same high school as Gonzaga's Redmon (Lewis & Clark) and Heather Bowman.
To add to the rivalry, the players are all quite familiar with each other as well. Mosiman said it's not uncommon to go to the open gyms on campus and see Frieson there playing ball. It parroted what Anderson said about going home to Spokane, where she frequently plays in open-gym games with Gonzaga players at McCarthey. Pride also matters when connections between teams run this deep.
"Anytime we're playing someone in-state, it's always a pride thing," Mosiman said. "You want to be the best team in Washington, but you can't be the best unless you beat the other teams in the state. So we always bring a little something extra for these in-state games."
The Huskies and Bulldogs have played each other 19 times in their history, with Gonzaga claiming wins in the last two meetings. The Huskies opened the 2008-09 season against the Bulldogs, falling 64-59 in a close one at home. Laura McLellan led the Huskies with 16 points, while Whitcomb and Kristi Kingma added 11.
Gonzaga also won in the teams' previous meeting, taking a 91-72 victory in Spokane in 2007. But Washington had won all 17 previous encounters, dating back to the 1984 season.
The Huskies have plenty of momentum going into this game, coming off a 67-66 win over BYU on Wednesday, when senior guard Sami Whitcomb hit a 3-pointer with 4.0 seconds left to give UW the victory. A solid crowd is expected at McCarthy, as Gonzaga is promoting "Pack The Kennel" to its fans and the student body.
The Bulldogs are riding high as well with a two-game win streak, including a 70-58 victory over the USC Trojans on Thursday. They return most everyone from their NCAA Tournament team from last season, which advanced to the second round before falling to Pittsburgh in a tight game.
"We need to go out and make sure we have extreme focus," said Huskies coach Tia Jackson. "They're going to come at us with a lot of pressure."