March 18, 2001
REGIONAL: West, second round.
TIME: Sunday, 7:40 p.m. EST.
SITE: O'Connell Center, Gainesville, Fla.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Washington senior guard Megan Franza and her teammates are not ready to seetheir magical season come to an end. But the sixth-seeded Huskies willcertainly have their hands full when they face No. 3 seed Florida in thesecond round of the West Regional.
The Huskies' dramatic resurgence this season continued on Friday as LoreePayne drilled a 15-footer at the buzzer, giving Washington a 67-65 victory over11th-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 twogames of the regular season to share the conference crown with Stanford.
It appeared Washington would end the season on a three-game losing streakwhen Franza missed a potential go-ahead jumper in the waning seconds ofFriday's first-round game. But the ball went out of bounds off Old Dominionwith seven-tenths of a second left and Franza inbounded to Payne, who buriedthe 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 goingdown fighting. We know this is our last chance and we're going to make the bestof it.'
While the Huskies were struggling, the Lady Gators were having their waywith Holy Cross, rolling to an 84-52 win on Friday.
Naomi Mobley scored 15 points and tied the West Regional record for reboundswith 20 as Florida improved to 5-0 at home in postseason play. The Lady Gatorsare 4-0 on their home floor in NCAA tournament games.
The Lady Gators, who are playing in the second round for the first timesince losing in the regional semifinals to Duke in 1997, are not taking theHuskies, or any opponent, lightly.
'Well, the name of the game is survive and advance,' coach Carol Ross saidFriday. 'We survived round one, and were excited about that. I anticipate avery tough second-round game. I anticipate that well have our hands full. (TheHuskies) are a smart team, and they are very well-coached.'
Washington, which is appearing in its first NCAA tournament since beingousted in the opening round by Purdue in 1998, is 4-5 all-time in second-roundgames. However, the Huskies like their chances on Sunday.
'I think if we jump on them quick, we can take (the Florida crowd) out ofit,' Payne said. 'Florida has an awesome crowd. There were a lot of peoplehere (on Friday). It was loud so we're going to use that to our advantage. Welike 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 LeAnnSheets (7.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg), G Payne (10.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg), G Franza (16.4 ppg, 3.7rpg), 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, defeatedOld Dominion 67-65, first round. Florida - At-large bid, SoutheasternConference, defeated Holy Cross 84-52, first round.
ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD: Washington - 12-12, 13 years. Florida - 8-7,eight years.