UW Women Shine in Tia Jackson's Coaching Debut
Nov. 3, 2007
SEATTLE - The Tia Jackson Era got off to a terrific start Saturday.
The first-year head coach saw her women's basketball team race out to an early lead and never look back during her debut on the bench for Washington.
Junior Heidi McNeill scored 10 of her 14 points during the first half as Washington took control early en route to an 84-59 victory over Love and Basketball in a women's exhibition basketball game at Bank of America Arena.
Jackson downplayed her inaugural game as a head coach. She spent the previous two seasons as an assistant at Duke.
'I'm doing the same thing I was doing last year, now I just get to stand up a little more.'
Love & Basketball scored first on a layup by Tanisha Johnson 2:20 into the game. UW's McNeill answered with a 3-pointer before Jessica Cheeks converted two free throws to give the visitors their final lead at 4-3 with 16:03 left in the first half.
The Huskies staged a 15-3 run to go ahead for good. McNeill scored seven points during the early surge and senior Emily Florence contributed five.
Sophomore Sami Whitcomb capped the streak on a layup that put UW up 18-7 with 10:35 left until halftime.
The Husky advantage grew to as many as 21 points in he first half before the teams took a halftime break with UW leading 40-24.
Whitcomb took over in the second half, scoring 17 of her 21 points after intermission. After a sluggish 2-for-9 shooting effort in the first half, Whitcomb hit 6-of-8 attempts in the second half and 3-of-4 shots from 3-point range.
UW hit 6-of-12 treys during the second half and staked its largest lead of 31 points with 1:02 remaining.
The offensive outburst was encouraging for the Huskies, who topped the 84-point plateau just twice last season while averaging 71.5 points per game.
'They did exactly what I asked them to do. We had a couple little wrinkles, but we got out there and pushed the tempo,' said Jackson. 'We were trying to get a high percentage shot within the first twelve seconds of the shot clock and I think we did that.'
All nine Love & Basketball players scored, but none of them reached double figures. Johnson, Danielle Rainey and Shanell Law tied for team-high scoring honors with nine point apiece.
Love and Basketball is a touring team that was formed in 2000. The roster is primarily comprised of former college standouts who now reside in the Southern California area.
McNeill grabbed 15 rebounds to lead UW to a commanding 63-39 advantage on the boards.
'There's still a lot of areas for improvement, but I feel like it was a coming out game for me,' McNeill exclaimed. 'Last year I didn't get to play much and was a bit injured. But I just feel like with this team and the new coaching staff I have a lot more self confidence in myself and in my teammates. I feel good about the whole year.'
McNeill was one of only three returning athletes saw playing time for the Huskies, joining Florence and Whitcomb. Five members of UW's acclaimed recruiting class participated, including starters Katelan Redmon and Jess McCormack.
'They responded very well,' Jackson said of her five freshmen. 'Katelyn really stepped up. Candice (Nichols) getting to the free throw line and getting six attempts, that shows her aggression. She's already proven that she's a slasher and penetrator for us.
'We want to look to push the tempo and attack more. Our freshmen were looking to do that. They're not shy. I love that about them. They don't play like freshmen. They're hungry players.'
The Huskies play one more exhibition game, Tuesday, Nov. 6 against NCAA Division II power Seattle Pacific University. Admission is free for that contest that tips off at 7 p.m. in Bank of America Arena.
UW opens the regular season with five straight games away from home, beginning, Saturday, Nov. 10 at Kansas State.