Husky Women Play Regular Season Finale Saturday At Arizona
Feb. 25, 2005
Looking to rebound from a loss at Arizona State, Thursday, the Husky women's basketball team (12-15, 8-9 Pac-10) plays its regular season finale at Arizona (19-9, 11-6) Saturday, Feb. 26, at 3 p.m. PT at the McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. While having a lock on the No. 7 seed to next week's Pac-10 Tournament, Washington can play the role of spoiler for Arizona as the Wildcats are one of four teams vying for the No. 2 seed. In order to do that, the Huskies will have to win their first game over Arizona in Tucson since 1995. Washington has won three of its last four games, and the Wildcats have won four of their last five. UW will hope to avoid the season sweep to Arizona after falling 67-63 to the Wildcats on Dec. 27.
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.
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.
Arizona returns home to the friendly confines of the McKale Center this week, where the Wildcats are 13-2 this year. Arizona is coming off a commanding 89-60 victory over Washington State, Thursday. Arizona split at the Oregon schools last week, defeating Oregon State (78-59) but falling at Oregon (51-69). The Wildcats have won four of their last five games and are led by the duo of Dee-Dee Wheeler (17.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Shawntinice Polk (13.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg). As a team, Arizona is averaging 72.0 points per game while shooting 44 percent from the field.
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:
Kristen Kovesdy and Aubrey Johnson each scored 14 points to lead Arizona State past Washington 69-48 Thursday night, snapping the Huskies' three-game winning streak. Johnson had four points for the Sun Devils (19-8, 11-6) during a 9-0 run that gave Arizona State 44-30 lead with 14:29 left. The Sun Devils, which have won four of their last five, then went on a 15-6 run to open up a 61-42 advantage with 6:53 left. Cameo Hicks had 14 points to lead Washington (12-15, 8-9). The Sun Devils shot 61 percent (30 of 49) from the field -- their best percentage of the conference season -- to overcome 27 turnovers. The Huskies committed 24 turnovers themselves, from which Arizona State scored 27 points. The teams combined for 27 turnovers in the first half but the Sun Devils scored the last five points to take a 33-23 halftime advantage. Washington made just 18 of 59 field goals (season-low 30.5 percent) against the conference's best scoring defense, which came into the game allowing 53.6 points per game. The Huskies' 48 points were also a season-low for a team that had yet to be held under 50 points this season. Dominique Banks and Kristen O'Neill added nine points each for UW, while Jill Bell and Breanne Watson led the rebounding effort with six and five boards, respectively. The loss was the fourth-straight for Washington against ASU in Tempe. The Huskies have only won twice in Tempe since 1996 (1997, 2001).
The Huskies are 6-4 in their last 10 games after opening the year 6-11.
ASU held UW to a season-low 48 points on Thursday, and a season-low 30.5 percent shooting percentage.
Washington's loss at ASU, Thursday, snapped a three-game winning streak - its longest of the season. The last time UW won three straight was last year 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 seven 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 67.5 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 11 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, Feb. 19, and has reached double-figures seven times in the last 10 games. She is averaging 8.2 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, Feb. 19, and now averages 9.6 points in Pac-10 play. She has reached double-figures in scoring in seven of the last 11 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 assists (75), and is second in steals (43) and scoring (9.2 ppg). Burt has reached double-figures in six of the last 11 games and set career-highs with 20 points and eight rebounds at UCLA (Feb. 3). Playing with a protective mask versus WSU, Feb. 19, 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 (Cameo Hicks - 9.3, Kayla Burt - 9.2, O'Neill - 9.1, Jill Bell - 9.0).
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 109 more turnovers than it has committed (559-450). In fact, Washington has forced more turnovers than its opponent 21 times in 27 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 four-straight and 10 of the last 12 contests. Much of the Huskies' improved play 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 also led the Huskies with 14 points against ASU, Thursday. She is averaging 9.8 points and 5.3 rebounds against conference foes. Overall, Hicks leads the team with 9.3 points per game and is second in rebounding with 4.6 boards per game. Hicks leads the squad with a field goal shooting percentage of 42.1 percent (99-for-235).
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 17 times, Bell has scored at least 10 points in six of the last nine 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 9.0 points per game and she is second on the squad with a 40.8 shooting percentage (104-255). 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. Burt has paid little mind to her starting status, having started 16 games, while coming off the bench 11 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 (vs. WSU, Feb. 19), 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 27 games and has 11 total double-figure scoring games. O'Neill is third on the team in scoring with 9.1 points per game, third in assists (52) and fourth in steals (29). She is also one of UW's top three-point threats and leads the squad with 39 three-pointers made. Her average of 1.46 treys per game going into this week ranked 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 24 of 27 games in her first collegiate season, leads the squad with 44 steals and has led the team in steals in 10 of the last 19 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. UW's most productive fivesome has started nine of the last 10 games: forwards Jill Bell and Kristen O'Neill, and guards Cameo Hicks, Dominique Banks and Emily Florence. During that span, the Huskies were 5-5 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 27 games, with junior guard/forward Kristen O'Neill the only player to start all 27. 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 turned its scoring woes around. The Huskies have scored at least 80 points in four of the last seven games. UW's scoring average dropped after a season-low 48-point peformance against Arizona State, Thursday, but remains at 67.5 points per game. Washington 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.
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 7.3 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 151-114, and a career record of 274-188. 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.