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March 17, 2010 at 6:02 PM

Game thread: WBI first round Portland at Washington

HUSKIES WIN: Washington had a season-high 18 steals — five from Kingma — in collecting a 75-44 win against Portland. Jackson and her team were upbeat afterward, the coach even pinching media that didn’t wear green for St. Patty’s Day. (I was pinched, but had a green bag) Portland coach Jim Sollars said his team had no legs and weren’t really into the game, disgruntled at not being able to make shots early. He said the attitude had nothing to do with the WBI, he actually likes the idea. “We’re not a very mature team,” he said. Jackson’s squad is gaining maturity, turning around to get a win at home. The team will really be tested now, possibly traveling through Vancouver, Canada to get to Corpus Christi for the second-round game. The team has to be sure everyone has passports first. The game is slated for Sunday at 2 p.m., so there’s little time to spare. Whitcomb led her team with 15 points while McLellan added 14. Kingma (11), Argens (12), and Rogers (12) were also in double figures — the first time UW had five players do so.
HELLO ARGENS: Argens went missing after starting the season strong, but she has returned against the Pilots, hitting layins and jumpers for 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting. She also has two rebounds. UW leads 69-32 with 7:27 left in the game.
TEXAS TWO-STEP: Unless something unheard of happens, the Huskies will travel to play No. 2 seed Texas A&M Corpus-Christi in the second round of the WBI. The game is slated for Sunday, but the time hasn’t been set, yet. The Islanders defeated the No. 7 seed Cal State-Bakersfield Roadrunners 97-89 in overtime.
SCORES ELSEWHERE: No. 3 seed Louisville, which was in the NCAA Final Four last year, lost to No. 6 seed Bradley 69-59. No. 2 seed College of Charleston defeated No. 7 seed Morehead State 67-59.
HALFTIME: UW still isn’t showing the kind of effort you’d like to see from a team given a second chance to finish their season on a better note, but they lead 46-20. Portland, which looks like they’d rather take the $7,000 for traveling and jet back home, is giving no resistance. They’ve turned the ball over 14 times and are shooting 30.4 percent from the field. Whitcomb and Rogers lead with 11 points apiece while McLellan has 10 and four rebounds.
FIVE UP: Jackson substituted five for five. It’s a rare sight for her, using the pattern during the exhibition season and in LA during the loss to OSU. In fact, it led to the breakdown. UW up 32-18 with 6:00 remaining in the opening half.
ANYBODY CARE?: You could put a Snickers bar on the ground and Whitcomb would battle hard for that — regardless of the fact that she loves candy. But the heart isn’t as apparent in the other nine players on the court. UW is fighting for the boards and getting their baskets to drop in building a 26-14 lead. But that basketball feel hasn’t arrived. And neither has the crowd.
SIMILAR START: UW is up 14-2 with 15:35 remaining in the opening half, a similar look when they lost to OSU. Whitcomb, again, is hitting three-pointers (three to be exact) and the Huskies are forcing turnovers.
Everybody’s talking about this being the “Year of the Mid-Major.” The inaugural WBI will help showcase those schools, but Washington is hopeful it isn’t against them.
The Huskies finished the regular season tied with Oregon for sixth in the Pac-10, but lost a disappointing game to Oregon State in the opening round of the conference tournament on Thursday. It seemed everyone in purple was tight and frustrated as the 10-point loss progressed. Players were tearful afterward, but told of the possibility of continuing their season in the WBI.
Some may fret about a 12-17 team getting a berth to anything not titled the “Toilet Bowl” and I’d normally agree — except for those mid-majors. They don’t get the type of consideration some should because of the shadow major programs cast.
In Washington’s case I’m also not agreeing with the argument that the WBI is a waste of money ($10,000 to be exact) simply because of the developing underclassmen. They should fight for this title as a step toward the NCAA tournament or at least a better season next year. The Pac-10 is going to be tough next season, so the more games they can play together is beneficial.
UW will play Wednesday’s matchup without senior G Sara Mosiman, however. She suffered a concussion in Monday’s practice and is out for the game.
There’s a lot of purple on the court and not much in the empty stands at Hec Ed. the purple clad Portland (18-12) placed fourth in West Coast Conference standings during the regular season. The Pilots have never defeated the Huskies in eight tries, last playing them in 1999 in Hawaii.
The WBI marks Portland’s 10th trip to the postseason, second consecutive. The Pilots lost in the opening round of the WNIT last season. Washington is returning to the postseason for the first time in four years, first under coach Tia Jackson.
So, let’s get to it with your starting lineups:
PILOTS
F Alexis Gannis
F Tara Cronin
C Lauren Angel
G Laiken Dollente
G ReZina TecleMariam
HUSKIES
F Sami Whitcomb
F Mackenzie Argens
C Regina Rogers
G Sarah Morton
G Kristi Kingma
Tonight’s officials are Jim Morrell, Darren Krzesnik, and Bart Baldwin.

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