Husky Women Wrap Regular Season In The Desert This Week
Feb. 22, 2005
Riding its longest winning streak of the year, the Washington women's basketball team wraps up the regular season slate this week with a trip to the desert. The Huskies (12-14, 8-8 Pac-10) will face Arizona State (18-8, 10-6), Thursday, Feb. 24, at 5:30 p.m. PT (6:30 p.m. MT) and Arizona (18-9, 10-6), Saturday, Feb. 26, at 3 p.m. PT (4 p.m. MT). Washington is looking for its fourth-straight victory after winning three-straight at home over its Northwest rivals Oregon State, Oregon and Washington State. The Huskies have a solid seventh-place position in this week's Pac-10 standings and will look to play the role of spoiler as ASU and Arizona are jockeying for one of the top Pac-10 Tournament seeds. Both teams are tied for fourth, are a half-game behind third-place and a full-game out of second-place. UW opened the Pac-10 schedule back in late December hosting the Arizona schools, falling 67-63 to the Wildcats and defeating the Sun Devils 63-55.
All Husky women's basketball games can be heard live on the radio at KKNW 1150 AM. Steve Sandmeyer enters his sixth season calling the action, while former Husky Elise (Niemela) Woodward will join Sandmeyer on home broadcasts. Fans can also listen to games on the internet at www.gohuskies.com.
Washington's game at Arizona State, Thursday, will be televised in the Phoenix area on AZ-TV.
Feeling The Heat:
Since the 1995-96 season, the trip to the desert has been a tough one for the Huskies. UW has been swept by both Arizona State and Arizona on the road the last three-straight seasons and seven of the last nine. The last time UW swept ASU and Arizona on the road was the 1994-95 season. The McKale Center in Tucson has been an especially tough place for Washington to play, as the Huskies have lost the last nine straight meetings with the Wildcats there. Washington's last win in Tucson was in 1995. The Huskies have salvaged two wins in Tempe since 1996, with those victories coming in 2001 and 1997. Prior to 1995-96, it was the Huskies who owned the Sun Devils and Wildcats in the desert. Washington swept both teams on the road six times from 1987-1995. In fact, the Huskies won eight of nine at Arizona in that span and seven of nine at Arizona State.
Scouting Arizona State:
Washington will have its hands full with a Sun Devil squad that is 10-1 at home this season and that won its last five straight at Wells Fargo Arena. Arizona State is coming off a split at the Oregon schools last week. ASU fell at Oregon (59-66) and rebounded with a 66-56 victory at Oregon State. ASU has won three of its last four contests heading into Thursday. Two players average double-figure scoring, led by Emily Westerberg (11.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg). Kristen Kovesdy also averages 10.7 points on a 59.2 percent field goal shooting percentage (119-201). ASU averages just 63 points per game, but is holding its opponents to a mere 53.6 points.
Series With Arizona State:
Washington, which leads the all-time series with ASU 25-13, is looking for the season sweep over the Sun Devils. UW defeated ASU 63-55 in Seattle, Dec. 29. These teams split their two conference meetings last year, each winning on their home court. UW has won four of the last six meetings with ASU dating back to 2002. While Washington has defeated ASU nine-straight times in Seattle, ASU has won six of the last seven games in Tempe. UW's last win at Wells Fargo Arena was in 2001. That year was also the last time the Huskies swept the season series with the Sun Devils. UW defeated ASU 66-62 in Tempe (Jan. 11, 2001) and 79-60 in Seattle (Feb. 10, 2001).
Arizona returns home to the friendly confines of the McKale Center this week, where the Wildcats are 12-2 this year. Arizona is coming off a split at the Oregon schools last week, defeating Oregon State (78-59) but falling like ASU did at Oregon (51-69). The Wildcats have won three of their last four games and are led by the duo of Dee-Dee Wheeler (17.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Shawntinice Polk (12.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg). As a team, Arizona is averaging 71.4 points per game while shooting 43.9 percent from the field (734-1671). Wheeler has 289 career steals and just moved into second-place on the all-time Pac-10 list.
Series With Arizona:
The Huskies will look to break the McKale curse that has haunted them the last nine years. The last Washington win in Tucson was in 1995. A win for Washington on Saturday will also snap its current six-game losing streak against Arizona. UW and Arizona have met in the last two Pac-10 Tournaments. The last Husky win over Arizona was Jan. 11, 2003 in Seattle (60-59), while the last Husky win in Tucson was March 2, 1995 (71-68). Washington leads the all-time series 25-15.
Last Time Out:
Led by the career-high equaling 17 points of sophomore forward Jill Bell, Washington held off a furious Washington State rally for a 76-72 win in its regular season home finale, Feb. 19. The win was the 20th-straight for Washington against its intrastate rival and extended to three the team's current winning streak, its longest this season. WSU trailed by as many as 20 points in the first half and was down by 14 with 12 minutes to play, before mounting a dramatic 20-8 run to cut the Huskies' lead to two with three minutes remaining. The two teams traded points for the ensuing two minutes, before Cougars' center Keisha Moore missed a chance to tie the game with 42 seconds remaining and the Huskies ahead 74-72, losing the ball out of bounds as she pivoted for a layin underneath the Washington State basket. Washington left the door open for a last-second upset by missing the back end of a pair of one-and-one free-throw sets in the final minute, but held fast on the defensive end to deny the Cougars their first win in Seattle since the 1993 season. Bell was one of four players in double-figures for the Huskies, including season-high 16 from sophomore Breanne Watson, and 11 each from sophomore guards Cameo Hicks and Cheri Craddock. Junior guard Ariana Scales led the Cougars' comeback with a career-high 22 points and six three-pointers, including four threes in the second-half.
The Huskies are 6-3 in their last nine games after opening the year 6-11.
Washington's current three-game winning streak is its longest this season and the longest since last year when UW won three straight over Oregon, Washington State, and Arizona State (Feb. 14 - Feb. 26, 2004).
The Huskies have scored at least 80 points in four of the last six games, after reaching the 80-point plateau once in the first 19 games. The Huskies' season-high output was 86 points versus Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Nov. 26).
Since averaging a season-low 64 points through the first 16 games, the Huskies have brought their average scoring numbers to 68.2 per game.
Washington's increased offensive output reflects a much improved team shooting percentage. The Huskies shot no higher than 40 percent in the first 16 games. Since then, UW has shot better than 40 percent in six of the last 10 games including a season-high 52.7 percent (29-for-55) performance versus California (Jan. 29).
Washington's 31-point win over Oregon State (Feb. 10) was its largest winning margin since defeating Oregon by 45 points (95-50) at home last season (Jan. 15, 2004).
Sophomore forward Breanne Watson has put up some big numbers coming off the bench. Watson, who scored a season-high 16 points versus Washington State, Saturday, and has reached double-figures seven times in the last nine games. She is averaging 8.5 points and 4.0 rebounds on the season. Sophomore forward Jill Bell continues to be the Huskies' go-to player. Bell equaled her career-high with 17 points versus the Cougars in UW's last outing, and now averages a team-high 10.1 points in Pac-10 play. She has reached double-figures in scoring in seven of the last 10 games.
Despite playing with a broken nose suffered in UW's contest with Oregon (Feb. 12), junior guard Kayla Burt continues to lead the Huskies in scoring (9.3 ppg), assists (72) and steals (42). Burt has reached double-figures in six of the last 10 games and set career-highs with 20 points and eight rebounds at UCLA (Feb. 3). Playing with a protective mask versus WSU, Saturday, Burt still managed seven points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Washington finished the regular season with an 8-7 record at home, marking the first time the Huskies have lost over five home games in the history of Bank of America Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. The Huskies were still able to salvage their streak of never finishing with a sub-.500 record at home.
UW is 5-1 when outshooting its opponents. UW outshot UCLA 47.5 percent to 46.2 percent (Feb. 3), but the Bruins ended up with the win. Until then, the Huskies had outshot their opponent just four times and were 4-0 in those games (Denver, Cal, ASU and OSU). UW outshot Washington State, Feb. 19, 47.6 percent to 45.5 percent.
Washington has six players averaging at least seven points per game - including four with over nine points - but none in double-figures. Four Huskies average at least nine points per game (Kayla Burt-9.3, Jill Bell-9.2, Cameo Hicks-9.1, Kristen O'Neill-9.1).
Washington has outscored its opponents in the second half 10 times, and the Huskies are 9-1 in those games. That loss came in UW's contest at USC, Feb. 5. The Huskies outscored USC 44-30 in the second-frame only to come up five points shy at the end.
Washington has prided itself on playing stingy defense this season, forcing 106 more turnovers than it has committed (532-426). In fact, Washington has forced more turnovers than its opponent 21 times in 26 games. The Huskies rank fourth in the Pac-10 in steals (10.31), and have two players ranked among the top-10 conference players in thefts. Guards Kayla Burt and Emily Florence rank ninth and 10th respectively among the Pac-10 leaders. Burt averages a team-high 1.62 steals per game, while Florence averages 1.58.
Pac-10 Tourney On The Horizon:
Following this week's trip to the desert, Washington will make the journey to San Jose, Calif., for the 2005 State Farm Pac-10 Tournament held March 4-7. Washington's tournament seed will be determined by its final spot in the Pac-10 standings. The bottom four seeds play each other on Friday evening, with the quarterfinals to take place Saturday, semifinals Sunday and the Pac-10 Championship final on Monday evening. The tournament winner receives the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. UW advanced to the semifinals the last two seasons.
Sophomore guard Cameo Hicks, a Pac-10 All-Freshman honoree last year, broke into the starting lineup at Utah (Dec. 4) and has proven to be one of the Huskies' most consistent players since. She has shown that especially in Pac-10 games, scoring at least 10 points in the last three-straight and nine of the last 11 contests. Much of the Huskies' three-game winning streak can be attributed to the play of Hicks, who was UW's leading scorer and rebounder in wins over Oregon (14 pts., eight rebounds) and Oregon State (13 points, nine rebounds), to go along with 11 points versus WSU. She is averaging 9.8 points and 5.3 rebounds against conference foes. Overall, Hicks is the team's third-leading scorer with 9.1 points per game and is second in rebounding with 4.7 boards per game. Hicks leads the squad with a field goal shooting percentage of 41.8 percent (94-for-225).
Redshirt sophomore forward Jill Bell has come into her own this season, especially in recent games. The Bellevue High grad could always be depended upon for her vertical leap and ability to rebound, but recently she has taken her offensive game to a new level. Leading the team in either scoring or rebounding a combined 16 times, Bell has scored at least 10 points in six of the last eight games, including a career-high 17 versus California, Jan. 21, which she equaled against WSU, Feb. 19. She notched her second career double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds at Washington State (Jan. 22). She has reached double-figures in scoring for a team-high 13 times. Bell's scoring average has improved to 9.2 points per game and she is second on the squad with a 41.5 shooting percentage (103-248). She is still Washington's top rebounder with 5.4 boards per game, and ranks 10th in the Pac-10. Bell has used her athleticism to lead UW with 29 blocks, including a season-high four versus Minnesota (Nov. 15). Among the league's elite, Bell ranks fourth in the Pac-10 in blocks (1.12 per game) and ninth in offensive rebounds (2.27). Bell was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman honorable mention team last year, despite only starting the last nine games of the season. Bell's career-high for rebounds in a game is 16, set in last year's Husky win over Denver.
Washington's season opener with South Carolina, Nov. 14, marked the first official game for redshirt junior guard Kayla Burt since Dec. 28, 2002, a span of 687 days. Burt suffered a cardiac arrest episode on Dec. 31, 2002 and initially retired from basketball after being diagnosed with a heart condition called Long QT Syndrome. At the time, Burt had a defibrillator implanted in the right side of her chest. Last year she underwent further testing that revealed she did not have the condition and UW granted permission for her to rejoin the team on Aug. 17, 2004. She didn't waste any time getting into the action, tying for the team lead in scoring with 12 points in her season debut, including a 7-for-8 mark from the charity stripe. Burt has reached double-figures 12 times, including 10 of the last 19 games. Burt has paidlittle mind to her starting status, having started 16 games, while coming off the bench 10 times. In a reserve role, she set career-highs in points twice, eclipsing her previous high of 19 set at Oregon (Jan. 13) with 20 points at UCLA (Feb. 3). At UCLA, Burt matched her career-high for three-pointers (four) and set a new career high with eight rebounds. Against Cal, Jan. 29, Burt scored 13 points on a perfect 10-for-10 clip from the line, to go along with a team-high six rebounds and seven assists. She leads the team in assists (72), scoring (9.3 ppg) and steals (42). Perhaps her biggest thrill this year was hitting a half-court shot at the halftime buzzer to give Washington a 20-point halftime lead (48-28) versus Oregon State (Feb. 10). Nothing will keep her down as Burt has been playing with a broken nose since suffering the injury in UW's contest with Oregon, Feb. 12. In her first game playing with a custom-made protective mask, she recorded seven points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
O'Neill Ignites Offense:
Despite redshirting last year with a stress fracture in her left foot, co-captain Kristen O'Neill has been looked upon to lead this young Husky team and has done so in successful fashion. Perhaps the Huskies' most versatile player, O'Neill starts at forward but also rotates in at point guard for starter Emily Florence. She became the first Husky to score 20 points when she recorded a career-high 23 at Oregon State, Jan. 15. O'Neill had a nearly flawless performance, shooting 5-for-8 from the field, 4-for-5 from long range and 9-for-9 from the free-throw line. O'Neill, the only Husky to start all 26 games and has 11 total double-figure scoring games. O'Neill is tied for third on the team in scoring with 9.1 points per game, third in assists (52) and fourth in steals (28). She is also one of UW's top three-point threats and leads the squad with 38 three-pointers made. Her average of 1.46 treys per game rank ninth on the Pac-10 list heading into this week.
Freshman Emily Florence may not have the scoring and rebounding numbers but the 5-5 point guard has sparked a much improved Husky defense with her tenacious and fearless play. Florence, who has started 23 of 26 games in her first collegiate season, is second on the squad with 41 steals, just one behind leader Kayla Burt. That number (1.58 steals per game) has her tied for 10th on the Pac-10 list for steals. Florence has led the team in steals in nine of the last 18 games, including a career-high four at California (Jan. 2). Washington has also relied upon her unselfish play with Florence playing a big part in helping her teammates get into the scoring act. Florence dished a career-high eight assists at OSU Jan. 15, the most assists by a Husky in a single game this year. She also grabbed a career-high six boards in Corvallis, and equaled that performance with six rebounds in both contests with Washington State.
The Right Combination:
UW head coach June Daugherty has used seven different starting lineups this season. Until UW's last game with WSU, the Huskies' most productive fivesome started nine-straight games: Forwards Jill Bell and Kristen O'Neill, and guards Cameo Hicks, Dominique Banks and Emily Florence. During that span, the Huskies were 5-4 and scored at least 80 points four times. UW also saw its shooting numbers greatly improve, with UW shooting over 40 percent five times - this coming from a team who had not surpassed that 40 percent mark in the first 16 games. An injury to Banks forced Daugherty to use her seventh lineup this season, inserting Kayla Burt at the No. 2 guard position against the Cougars, Feb. 19. Overall Daugherty has used nine different starters in 26 games, with junior guard/forward Kristen O'Neill the only player to start all 26. The combo of O'Neill, Burt, Florence, Cheri Craddock and Bell was used in UW's season opening victory over South Carolina. For the next four games, Daugherty used the same group minus Craddock and adding Breanne Watson. UW's first road trip featured two different lineups: Maggie O'Hara, Craddock, Florence, Hicks and O'Neill at Utah; and Bell, Watson, Hicks, Burt and O'Neill at Denver and Notre Dame. That fivesome started three games, before the lineup changed to O'Hara, O'Neill, Hicks, Burt and Florence for seven games.
Scoring Numbers On The Rise:
For a team that was averaging just 64 points through the first 16 games, Washington has definitely turned its scoring woes around. Since then, the Huskies have improved their season average to 68.2 points and moved from eighth to sixth on the Pac-10 season list. Washington is just off its recent pace, as the Husies have averaged at least 70 points the last four straight seasons, including a 75.6 average in 2002-03. The Huskies have averaged less than 70 points just three previous seasons in the history of the program - 66.7 (1999-00), 67.8 (1991-92) and 69.9 (1987-80). If UW continues the same offensive production it has seen in the last few games, the Huskies have a chance of reaching that 70-point average before season's end. Washington has scored at least 80 points in four of its last six games and is coming off a 76-point performance versus Washington State, Feb. 19.
Total Team Effort:
Any one of the Husky players on the 15-woman roster could step up to lead the team on any given night this year. So far 13 different players have led the team in either points, rebounds, assists, or steals in a single game. Washington's scoring has been especially balanced across the board with six players averaging between 9.3 and 7.2 points per game. UW had a different leading in scorer in seven-straight games from Dec. 15 (Baylor) to Jan. 7 (USC): Cameo Hicks versus Baylor (15), Dominique Banks versus Colorado (19), Cheri Craddock versus Arizona (14), Kayla Burt against Arizona State (12), Jill Bell at Cal (14), Kristen O'Neill at Stanford (16) and Breanne Watson versus USC (12). Banks, Craddock, Bell and Watson all scored their team-high points coming off the bench.
Washington is 2-5 against Top-25 opponents this season (0-2 on the road, 2-3 at home). UW upset then-No. 14 Minnesota and then-21 Arizona State, but suffered losses to then-No. 7 Notre Dame, then-No. 6 Baylor, then-No. 8 Stanford and then-No. 22 UCLA. The Huskies are 37-96 all-time against ranked opponents. Washington is 26-39 against Top-25 teams at home.
Changing of the Guard:
Washington's roster features eight players who did not play collegiate basketball last year. Five are freshmen Dominique Banks, Stefanie Clark, Emily Florence, Jackie Hollands and Andrea Plouffe. The other three - Kayla Burt, Kristen O'Neill, and Erica Schelly - redshirted 2003-04. Burt missed due to a heart condition, while O'Neill and Schelly nursed foot injuries. O'Neill had a stress fracture in her left foot, while Schelly broke her left foot in the first day of practice last year.
It's safe to say that Washington is beginning a new era in women's basketball, as 12 of the 15 players on the roster are underclassmen - seven sophomores and five freshmen. UW's elder states'women' are redshirt juniors Kayla Burt, Nicole Castro and Kristen O'Neill. Student assistant Kirsten Brockman is a senior, but was forced to retire from basketball prior to the 2003-04 season after suffering from severe stress fracture injuries. The last time Washington did not have a single senior on its roster was 1999-2000.
Home Sweet Home:
The Huskies finished the regular season with a home record of 8-7, unusual for a squad that has dominated opponents on its own floor. The Huskies have always excelled at home, compiling an overall record of 271-67 (.801) at Bank of America Arena (also known as Hec Edmundson Pavilion before the 2000 renovation). Washington has an overall home record of 34-12 since the 2002-03 season. Since 1987, Washington has had three undefeated seasons on its home court, going 15-0 in 1986-87, 14-0 in 1989-90 and 14-0 in 2002-03. Washington has never finished a season with less from a .500 record on its home court and its seven home losses this year is an all-time high. Prior to this year, Washington had not lost more than five games at Bank of America Arena in a single season.
Bring On The Best:
Washington has a challenging schedule, facing seven NCAA Tournament teams and three WNIT squads from last year. UW met its first test against 2004 NCAA Final Four team Minnesota, defeating the 14th-ranked Gophers 72-67 in overtime, Nov. 15. The Huskies then encountered two straight Top-10 opponents, falling to both No. 7 Notre Dame (58-72) and No. 6 Baylor (58-74). Washington pulled another upset over No. 21 Arizona State (63-55), before falling at No. 8 Stanford (61-74), to No. 22 UCLA (74-63) and again to then-No. 4 Stanford (60-82).
Husky Coaching Staff:
June Daugherty is in her ninth season as the head coach of the Husky women's basketball team, having led Washington to the postseason all but one year of her tenure. She has guided UW to four NCAA Tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2000-01, and three trips to the WNIT. She was also one of 25 finalists for the prestigious Naismith Coach of the Year award in 2002-03. Twice has a Daugherty squad reached the 22-win plateau and only once has a Husky squad finished with less than 16 wins in a season. Daugherty has compiled a UW record of 151-113, and a career record of 274-187. She coached seven seasons at Boise State before coming to Seattle. Her husband, Mike, is the Huskies' Associate Head Coach, while Janet Soderberg and Kellie Lewis-Jay are the two assistants. Mike Daugherty is in his ninth year with the team, while Soderberg begins her first season and Lewis-Jay enters her second year.
The Boise Connection:
Washington's entire coaching staff, as well as two players, all have connections to Boise, Idaho. June and Mike Daugherty coached at Boise State from 1990-1996, and among the players they coached were current UW assistants Janet Soderberg and Kellie Lewis-Jay. Soderberg also coached with the Daughertys for one season at BSU (1995-96), and coached Lewis-Jay as a player from 1995-98. Sophomore Maggie O'Hara and freshman Emily Florence both hail from Boise, Idaho, and were teammates at Timberline High School. Lewis-Jay coached the pair on an AAU Idaho Elite team during their prep careers.
Huskies Top Attendance Charts:
Year in and year out, Husky faithful pack the stands at Bank of America Arena, helping UW rank among the top teams in the nation in home attendance. This year figures to be no different. After 15 home games, UW ranks 31st in the nation with an average of 3,304 fans per game. That mark is third-highest among Pac-10 teams, behind Oregon (26th, 3,896) and Stanford (27th, 3,741). Washington led the Pac-10 in home attendance the last two seasons and ranked in the Top-25 nationally as well. The Huskies' average attendance in 2003-04 was 4,255 fans per game. UW attracted over 6,000 fans for two home games last year, versus Arizona and USC. In 2002-03, UW set an all-time women's basketball attendance record at the arena, when 8,408 fans packed the house to watch the Huskies defeat UCLA. And for the first time in school history, UW had back-to-back crowds of over 8,000 when 8,083 attended the game versus Stanford on Feb. 13. Washington's average home attendance in 2002-03 was 4,981, and for Pac-10 home games an average of 5,839 fans were on hand to cheer on the Huskies.