March 18, 2001
REGIONAL: West, second round.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Washington senior guard Megan Franza and her teammates are not ready to see their magical season come to an end. But the sixth-seeded Huskies will certainly have their hands full when they face No. 3 seed Florida in the second round of the West Regional.
The Huskies' dramatic resurgence this season continued on Friday as Loree Payne drilled a 15-footer at the buzzer, giving Washington a 67-65 victory over 11th-seeded Old Dominion. The Huskies, who were a dismal 8-22 last season, nearly won the Pac-10 title outright this season before dropping the final two games of the regular season to share the conference crown with Stanford.
It appeared Washington would end the season on a three-game losing streak when Franza missed a potential go-ahead jumper in the waning seconds of Friday's first-round game. But the ball went out of bounds off Old Dominion with seven-tenths of a second left and Franza inbounded to Payne, who buried the winning shot.
"It's been amazing," Franza said. "The confidence has never left anyone, young or old. The six seniors especially, we're ready to fight. We're going down fighting. We know this is our last chance and we're going to make the best of it."
While the Huskies were struggling, the Lady Gators were having their way with Holy Cross, rolling to an 84-52 win on Friday.
Naomi Mobley scored 15 points and tied the West Regional record for rebounds with 20 as Florida improved to 5-0 at home in postseason play. The Lady Gators are 4-0 on their home floor in NCAA tournament games.
The Lady Gators, who are playing in the second round for the first time since losing in the regional semifinals to Duke in 1997, are not taking the Huskies, or any opponent, lightly.
"Well, the name of the game is survive and advance," coach Carol Ross said Friday. "We survived round one, and were excited about that. I anticipate a very tough second-round game. I anticipate that well have our hands full. (The Huskies) are a smart team, and they are very well-coached."
Washington, which is appearing in its first NCAA tournament since being ousted in the opening round by Purdue in 1998, is 4-5 all-time in second-round games. However, the Huskies like their chances on Sunday.
"I think if we jump on them quick, we can take (the Florida crowd) out of it," Payne said. "Florida has an awesome crowd. There were a lot of people here (on Friday). It was loud so we're going to use that to our advantage. We like to play in front of a lot of people. We love that atmosphere."
PROBABLE STARTERS: Washington - F Andre Lalum (8.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg), F LeAnn Sheets (7.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg), G Payne (10.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg), G Franza (16.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg), G Giuliana Mendiola (10.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg). Florida - F Monique Cardenas (8.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg), F Mobley (10.9 ppg, 9.9 rpg), C Tamara Stocks (11.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg), G Tombi Bell (12.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 5.0 apg), G Brandi McCain (19.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg).
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Washington - At-large bid, Pac-10 Conference, defeated Old Dominion 67-65, first round. Florida - At-large bid, Southeastern Conference, defeated Holy Cross 84-52, first round.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Washington - 12-12, 13 years. Florida - 8-7, eight years.