UW Women Set To Face Top Seed LSU Monday

March 19, 2006

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This Week:
Coming off a 73-69 first round win over No. 8 seed Minnesota, ninth-seeded Washington (19-10) will face top-seed LSU (28-3) in the second round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship, Mon., March 20, at approximately 6:30 p.m. PST at Memorial Gym in Nashville, Tenn. The game will tip-off 30 minutes following the conclusion of the North Carolina vs. Vanderbilt game that begins at 4 p.m. PT, and will be nationally televised live on ESPN2 with Dave O'Brien and Ann Meyers calling the action. The victory was the first for Washington in the NCAA Tournament since 2001 when it advanced to the Elite Eight. LSU, ranked fifth in the final Associated Press poll, earned its trip to the second round via a 72-48 win over No. 16 seed Florida Atlantic, Saturday. UW's win over Minnesota snapped the Huskies' longest losing streak of the season, a three-game skid. UW is 1-0 all-time against LSU, the only meeting between these schools took place during the 1991-92 season.

TV/Radio/Internet Coverage:
ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Full Court will combine to present all 63 games from the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship. Washington's game versus LSU on Saturday will be televised live on ESPN2 with play-by-play announcer Dave O'Brien, analyst Ann Meyers and sideline reporter Jimmy Dykes providing the commentary. UW's game can also be heard live on the radio at KKNW AM 1150 and GoHuskies.com with Steve Sandmeyer and Elise Woodward calling the action.

Scouting The Huskies:
The NCAA Tournament bid brought new life to a Husky team that had lost its last three straight games, and four of its last six until defeating Minnesota in the NCAA first round Saturday...UW opened the season 7-2 against non-conference opponents, both losses coming to NCAA Tourney teams Baylor and Texas A&M on the road...the Huskies continued their hot streak when Pac-10 play begin, opening the conference slate 5-1 - a stretch that included wins over regular season Pac-10 Champion Stanford and Pac-10 Tournament Champion UCLA...UW's strengths have been its rebounding and defense...UW led the Pac-10 in offensive rebounds the majority of the season and has been among the conference leaders in steals throughout the year...shooting just 39.0 percent from the field, UW has put its offensive rebounding to good use and still averages 71.1 points per game...UW is a relatively young team, its starting lineup featuring three sophomores and two juniors the majority of the season...senior leadership has come from tri-captains Kayla Burt, Kristen O'Neill and Nicole Castro...O'Neill has started nine games, and leads the team in three-pointers made (34) and steals (49), is third in scoring (8.3 ppg)...Burt's career was cut short in mid-January...she decided to end her career after her internal heart defibrillator was activated during UW's Jan. 12 game with UCLA...Burt had played with the defibrillator for the last year and half, implanted after she suffered cardiac arrest on New Year's Eve, 2002...Burt sat out a year and a half and returned to the team in August, 2004...junior guard Cameo Hicks, an All-Pac-10 selection, has been UW's go-to-player, leading the team in scoring (14.9 ppg) and rebounding (5.5)...sophomore forward Andrea Plouffe has bolstered the Huskies' inside presence, averaging 10.9 points and 4.3 rebounds...UW received votes in both the Associated Press and WBCA/USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll for a majority of the season...UW cracked the Top-25 in the Coaches' poll Jan. 9...head coach June Daugherty is in her 10th season at the helm of the Husky program, having led UW to five NCAA appearances in her career - including an Elite Eight run in 2001.

NCAA First Round Notes:
UW's win over Minnesota in the first round improved its overall record in NCAA games to 15-14, 8-4 in first round games...it was the Huskies' first NCAA Tournament victory since 2001 when they advanced to the Elite Eight...UW is an even 5-5 in second round games...senior Kristen O'Neill came through in the clutch against the Golden Gophers, scoring four points in the final minute including a tie-breaking three-pointer with 56.6 seconds left...junior forward Breanne Watson powered the Huskies with a season-high 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds, while sophomore forward Andrea Plouffe scored a team-high 15 points...Plouffe has reached double-figures in scoring 12 times in the last 13 games, while Watson has done so eight times in the last 11 games...UW outrebounded the Golden Gophers 50-38, and 23-10 on the offensive glass.

UW Tournament History:
This year marks the 15th NCAA Tournament appearance for UW. The farthest a Husky team has advanced was to the Elite Eight twice (1990, 2001). The Huskies first appeared in 1985, the fourth year of the tournament, and had a string of seven-straight years in which they advanced to NCAA's. After missing out in 1992, when they finished 17-11, the Huskies returned five times in six seasons from 1993-98. In 2001, the sixth-seeded Huskies made an improbable run to the regional final, knocking off Old Dominion (67-65), Florida (86-75) and Oklahoma (84-67), before falling to Southwest Missouri State in the Elite Eight (87-104). Washington is 8-4 in first round games, 5-5 in second round games, 2-3 in regional semifinal games and 0-2 in regional championship games. UW owns a record of 3-6 in NCAA Tournament games played on a neutral court.

Last Time At The Tournament:
Washington's last appearance at the NCAA Championship was in 2003, when the Huskies earned a No. 9 seed and traveled to very familiar Eugene, Ore. for a contest with No. 8 seed Wisconsin-Green Bay at McArthur Court. Giuliana Mendiola scored 22 points, while the sister tandem of Kellie Dalan and Kristen O'Neill each added 14 and 12, respectively, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Phoenix which won, 78-65. Tiffany Mor came off the bench to lead UW-Green Bay with 15 points, one of five players to reach double-figures. The Huskies, who trailed 29-36 at halftime, were behind by just one, 50-49, with 11 minutes left. But the Phoenix took over in the final 10 minutes, going up by as many as 14 points as the Huskies lost steam. UW-Green Bay advanced to the second round for the first time in school history with the win.

UW Tourney Experience:
Just three Huskies on this year's squad have previous NCAA Tourney experience. Seniors Kristen O'Neill and Nicole Castro, along with redshirt junior Erica Schelly were on the 2003 squad that fell to Wisconsin-Green Bay in first round action three years ago. Redshirt juniors Jill Bell and Angie Jones were also members of that squad, but used their redshirt seasons in 2002-03. Senior Kayla Burt was a student assistant coach for the 2003 squad during the NCAA Tournament, after announcing her initial retirement following a cardiac arrest episode on New Year's Eve, 2002.

Scouting LSU:
LSU, ranked fifth in both the final Associated Press and WBCA Coaches' polls, earned the No. 1 seed in the San Antonio region, making the field of 64 for the 16th time in the program's history and seventh-straight season. It is the second-straight No. 1 seed for the Lady Tigers, and third overall. LSU is 28-3, its only losses coming at UConn (48-51), at Florida in overtime (78-79) and vs. Tennessee in the SEC Tournament final (62-63). LSU is led by 2005 National Player of the Year Seimone Augustus, who averaged 23.0 points and 4.6 rebounds heading into the NCAA Tournament. Sophomore center Sylvia Fowles averages 16.7 points and 11.6 boards. The Lady Tigers breezed past Florida Atlantic in the first round of the Tournament, Saturday, 72-48. Augustus led the way with 22 points. LSU will be the Huskies' highest ranked opponent since facing No. 5 Baylor in Waco, on Dec. 2 of this season.

Series History:
Washington and LSU met once before, with the Huskies defeating the Lady Tigers, 63-57, on Dec. 7, 1991, at the Frederick and Nelson Challenge in Seattle.

LSU/Washington Postseason Connections:
Washington and LSU have met just once, but have somewhat been connected in three of the last four postseasons. Both UW and LSU were at the same site in Eugene, Ore., in 2003 and were possible second round opponents, until UW fell to Wisconsin Green-Bay in the first round. That year, UW was also a No. 9 seed and LSU a No. 1 seed like this year. In 2004, the Huskies missed out on an NCAA berth, but the Lady Tigers came to Seattle for Regionals. LSU won the regional final on the Huskies' home floor to advance to the Final Four.

Common Opponents:
Washington and LSU have played three common opponents this year: Minnesota, Alabama and Baylor. LSU defeated Minnesota (66-45), Baylor (88-57) and Alabama twice (79-43/86-61). UW defeated Alabama (56-52) and Minnesota (73-69), but fell to Baylor (74-81).

Pac-10 Makes NCAA History:
A record six Pac-10 teams earned bids to the 2006 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. Earning the automatic berth was Pac-10 Tournament champion UCLA, which earned a No. 5 seed in the Cleveland Region. Joining Washington with at-large bids were No. 3 seed Stanford (San Antonio Region), No. 4 Arizona State (Albuquerque Region), No. 8 USC (Bridgeport Region) and No. 10 Cal (Albuquerque Region). Last year, five Pac-10 teams earned NCAA berths, with all five winning their first-round games.

Pac-10 Tournament Recap:
Washington met a disappointing run in the Pac-10 Tournament, falling to USC in the quarterfinals, 70-67, Saturday, March 4, at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. The Huskies outscored the Women of Troy, 47-38, in the second half but it wasn't enough to pull themselves out of a deep first half hole. UW shot just 19.4 percent from the field in the opening frame, and got 18 of its 20 first-half points from junior guard Cameo Hicks. Sophomore point guard Emily Florence had the first bucket of the game, and Hicks took over as the only bright spot in the first 20 minutes, scoring 18-straight points. USC led by as many as 15 points in the opening minutes of the second-half but Washington closed to within 55-53 when Hicks hit a putback with 6:08 remaining. Jamie Hagiya and Shay Murphy each hit key 3-pointers over the next 1:30 which kept USC in front by six points, a lead the Women of Troy carried into the final minute. Down three, Florence put up a desperation shot at the final buzzer but fell short. Hicks and Florence equaled their career-highs in scoring with 26 and 13 points, respectively, while sophomore forward Andrea Plouffe added 12. Murphy led USC with 21 points, while Camille LeNoir aded 17.

Regular Season Recap:
Returning all five starters and 14 letterwinners from last year's squad, the 2005-06 Huskies looked to build upon their strong finish from 2004-05. Led by senior tri-captains Kayla Burt, Nicole Castro and Kristen O'Neill, that is exactly what they did. Not backing down from a tough preseason schedule, UW opened the season with road wins at Alabama (No. 18) and Florida State (Nov. 20) to get the ball rolling. In fact, UW opened the season winning five straight and nine of its first 11 games - its best start since opening the 2002-03 season 9-2 as well. The Huskies knocked off Top-25 opponent Utah in their home opener (Nov. 23) before defeating San Diego (Nov. 26) and 2005 NCAA Tourney team Rice (Nov. 27) enroute to the Husky Classic tournament title. The Huskies hit the road again and suffered its first defeats of the season falling at defending NCAA champion Baylor (Dec. 2) and Texas A&M (Dec. 4). The Huskies responded by going 4-0 in their longest homestand of the season, which included wins over Michigan (Dec. 9) and Eastern Washington (Dec. 12), as well as Pac-10 victories over Cal (Dec. 20) and then-No. 10 Stanford (Dec. 22). After the Christmas holiday, UW headed right back into the Pac-10 schedule, falling to Arizona State (Dec. 29) in Tempe, only to respond with three-straight wins. Big Pac-10 victories for UW came versus UCLA (Jan. 12) in Seattle and in double overtime at USC (Feb. 9). UW closed out its home slate with a pair of wins over the Oregon schools to end the season 12-2 at Bank of America Arena. The Huskies certainly did not end the regular season the way they wanted to, losing by 31 points at Stanford (Feb. 23) and by 23 at Cal (Feb. 25). To make matters worse, UW lost its third straight, falling to USC (70-67) in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament. Junior guard Cameo Hicks has been the Huskies' go-to player on the floor all season, leading the team in scoring, rebounding and field goal shooting. The emergence of sophomore forward Andrea Plouffe as a powerful inside presence has bolstered the UW frontline, along with the consistent play of junior forward Breanne Watson. Senior guard Kristen O'Neill, although relegated to a reserve role after the first seven games, has given UW valuable minutes off the bench and leads the team in steals and three-pointers made.

Hicks Named To All-Pac-10 Team:
Junior guard Cameo Hicks was named to the 2005-06 All-Pac-10 team as voted upon by the league's coaches, the conference announced March 2. It is the first All-Pac-10 team selection for Hicks, who earned All-Pac-10 honorable mention honors as a sophomore and was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team in 2003. Hicks is the first Husky to earn an All-Pac-10 nod since Giuliana Mendiola and Andrea Lalum did so in 2003-04.

Dawg Bites:

• The Huskies have tallied at least 19 wins for the fourth time in head coach June Daugherty's 10-year tenure, and the first time since the 2002-03 season. Washington's 11 Pac-10 wins were the most since winning 13 conference games in 2002-03.

• The Huskies closed out another strong season at home, finishing the year with a 12-2 record at Bank of America Arena. The Huskies' 12 home wins is the most since UW went 14-0 at home in 2002-03. Dating back to last season, Washington has won 16 of its last 18 home games.

• UW received votes in either the Associated Press or WBCA/USA Today/ESPN polls for 13 straight weeks, a streak that ended Feb. 27. The Huskies cracked the Top-25 of the WBCA poll, ranking 25th in the Jan. 9 billing.

• The Huskies's win over Minnesota snapped a three-game losing streak, their longest of the season. UW ended the regular season with losses at Stanford and Cal, before falling to USC in the Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinals. Prior to this stretch, UW only lost back-to-back games at Baylor and Texas A&M.

• The Huskies' losses in their last two regular season games were their worst defeats of the season, falling by 31 points at Stanford (Feb. 23) and by 23 points at Cal (Feb. 25). Until then, UW's biggest loss was by a 14-point margin at Texas A&M (Dec. 4).

• The Huskies win over Minnesota snapped a four-game road losing streak. Prior to Saturday, the last road win came in double overtime at USC (Feb. 9).

• Washington has won 14 of its last 22 games and is 24-12 in its last 36 games dating back to last year.

• The Huskies are 7-8 on the road this year, 4-5 while playing at Pac-10 opponents. UW is 1-1 on neutral courts this season, losing the lone contest to USC in the Pac-10 Tournament quarterfinals.

• Going into this week, Washington led the Pac-10 in offensive rebounds (17.64) and turnover margin (+4.11). UW also ranked in the conference Top-5 in steals (2nd, 10.14), scoring offense (3rd, 71.0), rebounding offense (3rd, 40.5), rebounding margin (4th, +3.0), assists (5th, 14.54), and three-point FG made (5th, 5.86).

• Junior All-Pac-10 honoree Cameo Hicks is the team's leader in scoring (14.9 ppg) and rebounding (5.5), and is second in assists (2.5). Hicks, selected the Pac-10 Player of the Week for the week of Dec. 19-25, has reached double-figure scoring 23 times in 28 games including seven 20-point efforts. Going into the NCAA Tournament, Hicks ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in scoring, eighth in free-throw percentage (.769), ninth in offensive rebounds (2.48), eighth in 3-point FG percentage (.373), and 10th in steals (1.63).

• Sophomore forward Andrea Plouffe is not far behind Hicks when it comes to offensive numbers. On the season, Plouffe averages 10.9 points and 4.3 rebounds. She has reached double-figures in scoring 17 times in the last 21 games, and 20 overall.

• Junior forward Breanne Watson led UW in either scoring and rebounding three times in the last four games. In fact, Watson has been the team's top rebounder five times in the last eight games. She led the Huskies with 12 points and seven rebounds at Stanford (Feb. 23) and with 13 points and seven rebounds at Cal (Feb. 25). Most recently against Minnesota, she scored a season-high 14 points and had a team-high nine rebounds.

• UW set a school record with its perfect 14-for-14 (1.000) clip from the free-throw line at Baylor, Dec. 2. The Huskies surpassed the previous school record of a 93.8 percentage (15-for-16) set in 1978 versus Sacramento State and in 1985 versus Oregon.

What A Difference A Year Makes:
Last year at this time, the Huskies were making their spring break plans - and they didn't include postseason basketball. Washington finished 2004-05 with a 14-16 record, just its second losing season in program history. It was definitely a rebuilding year, as UW was one of seven NCAA Div. I programs without a senior on its roster. Not a single player had a scoring average in double-figures. But the Huskies finished strong, winning five of their last seven games with a hope the momentum would continue on into 2005-06.

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