Huskies' Comeback Falls Short at Marquette
Nov. 14, 2006
MILWAUKEE, Wis. - Junior Cameo Hicks scored 12 points in a surprise start Tuesday, but it wasn't enough to help the Huskies avoid a season-opening defeat to Marquette, 78-61, at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee.
Listed as day-to-day after injuring her knee during Sunday's practice, Hicks did not travel with the team Monday and was not expected to participate in Tuesday's game. After an MRI on Monday cleared her to play, however, she flew to Chicago and joined the team in Milwaukee on Tuesday afternoon, earning the start after reporting no pain in the knee during warm-ups.
Hicks finished the game with team highs 12 points and 28 minutes, adding four rebounds and one assist.
'I'm really proud of Cameo,' said 11th-year head coach June Daugherty. 'She played really hard. I know it was a little tough for her, but she gave us everything she had. If all of our players could step up with the same kind of intensity that Cameo had tonight, we might have had a different result.'
Hicks' surprise appearance, though, couldn't keep the Huskies from a sluggish start. Washington missed 18 of its first 26 shots and committed 11 first-half turnovers while falling behind 40-29 at the break.
After seeing its deficit extend to 13 just seconds into the second frame, however, the Huskies rallied to take a one-point lead with 12 minutes remaining in the game. Freshman Sami Whitcomb ignited the Huskies' 18-4 second-half run with back-to-back three-pointers, and junior Jill Bell added four points and two rebounds during the run, which gave Washington its first lead since the game's opening moments.
'At halftime we talked about getting back to playing Husky basketball, attacking them offensively and forcing turnovers on defense,' said Bell, who finished with 10 points and a UW-high eight rebounds. 'Once we got the lead, though, we got a little too comfortable and stopped putting as much pressure on them, which allowed them to get back into the game.'
After the two teams traded baskets to the eight-minute mark, when Bell's tip-in gave the Huskies a 52-51 lead, Marquette took command, scoring six-straight points and 28 of the next 34 to send the Huskies to their first defeat. Golden Eagles sophomore point guard Krystal Ellis had eight of her game-high 24 points during Marquette's closing run, during which Washington shot just 2-for-14 from the field and committed three turnovers.
'We looked totally out of sync,' said Daugherty. 'You can call it first-game jitters or whatever, but with seven seniors on this team we shouldn't have lapses like we had tonight. We had trouble recognizing the zone on offense and gave up way too many easy looks on defense. Our execution wasn't there, and that's something we have to fix right away.'
For the game, Marquette outshot the Huskies 45 percent to 30 percent from the field, but it was at the free-throw line where the Golden Eagles mostly took advantage. Washington was whistled for 32 fouls to Marquette's 19, leading to a 35-16 Golden Eagles edge in free-throw attempts.
Most troubling for Washington were the five fouls called on junior point guard Emily Florence. Marquette made significant runs each time the Huskies' floor leader was forced to sit for extended periods, including a 14-5 run late in the first half, and a 15-5 run after Florence fouled out with five minutes to play.
'We didn't adjust and were late on our drops,' said Bell about the foul discrepancy. 'I know we can play better.'
The loss is the first in a season-opener for Washington since the 2000-01 season, a year the Huskies closed with a run to Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament. Interestingly, Washington also opened that season with consecutive games against Midwest foes, losing the opener in overtime to Indiana before responding with a win at Michigan two days later.
Daugherty hopes that her 2006-07 Huskies can respond in a similar fashion when they play at 11th-ranked Purdue on Friday (3 p.m. PST).
'We need to come out and play Husky basketball from the start,' she said. 'Purdue is a good team, but we can't focus on them. We have to focus on us, and doing the things that well and playing our brand of basketball.'