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February 6, 2009 at 6:50 PM

Washington versus California game thread

HUSKIES LOSE: Multiple records were set tonight. UW lost their ninth consecutive game, a growing school record, and California won their 11th game, a school record for them. The final score was 70-40. Rozier led the Huskies with 12 points and Lay added 10. Walker led her team with 24 points and nine boards. Next up? No. 7 Stanford on Sunday. And for those keeping track, the only negative record left for UW to reset is the 12 consecutive road losses. The team is currently at five with five road games remaining.
NOT LAYING DOWN: Playing Cal’s senior frontcourt can only help Lay. She’s getting feisty inside and has muscled in some tough shots. She has 10 points and five boards and several screams to the rafters to get her teammates hyped. UW is down 68-38 with 4:31 remaining in the game.
FIGHTIN’ BEARS: Ahem, maybe the Huskies shouldn’t have been so aggressive to end the first half. It sparked the Bears, who came out and played like a team headed deep into the NCAA tournament, going on a 16-6 run. Cal currently leads 56-34 with 8:14 remaining in the game. Rozier is adding some offense for the Dawgs, which have improved to 27.9 percent from the field. Hey, it’s something.
HALFTIME: The stats aren’t pretty for UW. They’re shooting 23.1 percent from the field and getting outrebounded 24-16. The Dawgs only have one assist and are getting outscored 12-6 inside the paint. Cal only traveled 11 players and has used eight, getting the expected performance from Walker. She’s 4 of 6 from the field for nine points. She has one steal and one block with three boards. I wouldn’t say the Bears are on the level of a Connecticut or North Carolina, who’d be crushing the Huskies at this point — but the Bears do look a lot more cohesive than when I saw then in St. Thomas. Part of that is the improved health of Hampton, who returned from knee injury during that November Paradise Jam, and C Rama N’diaye, who is playing her third game of the season. UW needs to find its shot in the second half. If they can do that and keep up the defensive intensity, they might avoid another blowout.
NICE HOLD: In their best effort of the night, the Huskies held Cal scoreless for the final five minutes of the opening half with some gritty defense. During the stretch, McLellan grabbed three rebounds and had a tip-in, the Huskies forced a turnover, drew a charge, and made the Bears take two bad shots. Whitcomb added a jumper to get the Hec Ed crowd on their feet, feeling Washington’s fight. UW is down 27-18 at the break.
ON ICE: UW is disrupting some of Cal’s plans, but by shooting 15.8 percent in the opening half, it’s not helping to keep them in the game. The Huskies are down 18-9 with 7:44 left in the first half. Rozier is the leading scorer, making both of her FGs for four points.
ANOTHER POSITIVE: The Huskies matched their first-half total against the Bears in their last meeting, scoring their ninth point off a second made free throw by freshman Liz Lay. The score is now 16-9 with 10:37 left before the break.
BIG LOCKDOWN: Cal’s posts are going off in the paint, spinning around for jumpers like it’s some sort of free-style dance circle. Huskies are doing little to stop it and aren’t scoring on their end. It’s 16-7 Bears with 11:24 remaining.
ROUGH START: The Huskies didn’t start with the same execution they had against Arizona State last week and trail 7-4 at the first timeout with 14:59 remaining. Things are a little rough on the court. Cal is attempting a lot of three-pointers, making 1 of 4. Washington is 2 of 5 from the field and has only grabbed two rebounds. Young is being looked at after a hard fall on a defensive play, getting her left hand taped.
SPOTTED: San Antonio Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes is in attendance, most likely taking a gander at Cal’s bigs. Walker, Hampton, and Shantrell Sneed have all had ups and downs either due to injury or off court situations (or both) that could cause them to slip in the April 9 draft. There’s also red-shirt G Gray-Lawson, who is eligible for the draft. The Silver Stars traded their first-round pick, selecting 14th, 26th, and 39th overall.
The message was simple for California coaches this week.
“All we have to say is, ‘Remember last year?'” said California assistant coach Charmin Smith.
The third-ranked Golden Bears face Washington tonight at Hec Ed in a game that nearly mirrors last season when the Huskies pulled an upset over a then ninth-ranked Cal team. Of course this season the Bears held the Huskies to a school-low nine points in the opening half of a 28-point win in January. Still both teams are pulling from last season for motivation for this matchup.
“No one has forgotten what’s happened,” Smith continued. “No one has forgotten what was on the line and it’s on the line again for us. We want to stay in control of our own destiny, which means you can’t just go out and beat Stanford. You have to try to go out and beat every single team in the conference every time you play them. So, we’ve got to stay focused. We’re expecting a battle.”
Washington would like nothing more than to end California’s 10-game win streak, which would also put an end to the Huskies’ eight-game losing record — a ballooning school record with every defeat. The players have gone cliche, saying they’re just playing for themselves. But what do you expect when they’re losing at an average of about 24 points in the past eight games?
There are positives, like the scoring outbreak of junior wing Sami Whitcomb, the leadership of Kristi Kingma, and the spurt of junior college transfer Christina Rozier. Yet, many are saying coach Tia Jackson won’t survive a 10 or 12-game losing streak despite only being in her second season — first with her set roster.
Cal has a bad habit of playing to the level of their opponent. Maybe Washington can lure them into that tendency again and save a whole lot more than their season.
Here are the starting lineups:
F Sami Whitcomb
F Lydia Young
C Laura McLellan
G Kristi Kingma
G Christina Rozier
F Lauren Greif
F Devanei Hampton
C Ashley Walker
G Alexis Gray-Lawson
G Natasha Vital
Tonight’s officials are Marianne Karp, Lisa Jones, and Darren Krzensni.



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