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December 12, 2010 at 1:59 PM

Game thread: UC Riverside at Washington

HUSKIES LOSE: Heard tried to whip out more late-game heroics to steal the win for UW, but when you shoot 19 percent in the opening half and act like you’d rather be chilling at home watching football (not that the Seahawks played better), you’re not going to win many games. And UW didn’t, losing 59-54 to UC Riverside. As is the case with UW, UCR coach John Margaritis put the breaks on the win meaning anything more than the Highlanders’ best start since 2003, when they became Division-I eligible. His team defeated Arizona last year and advanced to the opening round of the NCAA tourney. But with a loss to ASU and a game against Oregon on the card, the jury is still out on whether the Highlanders (5-2) truly achieved anything other than a good win. For UW (4-3), losses to UCR coupled with Kent State and the blowout at BYU aren’t looking too good. UW is inconsistent, which Jackson tries to joke as fans getting “two games for the price of one,” but soon folks are going to just want one win — even if it’s an ugly one where you start by shooting 19 percent from the field. The highlight was Heard and the UW rebounding (41-26). Heard finished with 13 points and five boards off the bench. “The thing you’ve got to love about her is she’s always got energy and she’s always positive,” Williams said. “Bringing that to our team is a key.” Williams led with 10 boards while Argens added seven. Kingma led in scoring with 16 points. Morris led her team with 22, but it was Nottingham’s FT shooting down the stretch that iced it for the Highlanders. Now Washington will take a pseudo break, studying for finals before facing Western Michigan on Dec. 20 at Hec Ed. “They just need to get their minds cleared,” Jackson said of her team, which has traveled for games the past month. “We’ve got exceptional students on our team and we do a really good job of putting the academics before anything else. Once we get those academics aside, we’ll have a clear mind going into the Christmas break, going into Western Michigan and our team needs it.”
WILLIAMS OUT: Williams fouled out of the game, trying to stop a driving Brittany Waddell. But she made the layin and the ensuing FT to give the Highlanders a 54-50 lead with 1:55 left.
HIGHLANDERS UP: It’s nothing explosive, but UCR is back ahead 50-49 after a layin and two made FTs by Morris. Kingma made her own FTs, but a shot clock violation and sloppy pass have muddled UW’s attempts to shoot. There’s 3:55 remaining in the game.
FIRST LEAD!: Washington is on a 15-2 run to take a 46-44 lead after a three-point by Wetmore, a running jumper by Kingma, and two FTs by Williams. UCR has turned the ball over and gone cold shooting-wise, unable to respond. The crowd of 3,250 is really getting into the game. Especially the throng of little girls, who chased Santa around for candy and got their face painted as part of the festivities with Dads and Daughters Day. There’s 7:51 remaining in the game.
CLOSING IN?: Kingma has found some breathing room to get a couple shots to drop, but her hustle in getting a steal and layin with 17:36 remaining in the game is what pulled the Huskies within 34-26. If only UCR didn’t respond with a three-pointer by Morris. No matter, the Huskies continued to chip at the deficit and are within 44-39 with 10:56 on the clock after a putback by Heard. UW is using a full-court press to get some defensive stops and finally hitting its FGs.
HALFTIME: One of the biggest stats that stands out as the Huskies take a 31-19 deficit into the break is giving up 17 points on 12 turnovers. The Dawgs also shot 4-for-21 from the field. That’s 19 percent for those not quick with the math. Morris led all scorers with 12 points while Argens led UW with six and Williams had six boards. The Huskies need to show more fight and make the shots given in the second half if they hope to comeback and win this one.
SISTER LOVE: The Neabors sisters connected on a give-and-go in the paint to give the Highlanders a 29-15 lead with 3:00 remaining in the opening half. UW isn’t doinga good job protecting the paint, as Rheya Neabors found a seam moments earlier to get Morris an easy layin. UW also is turning the ball over in addition to missing attempts on offense. The Huskies are 4-for-17 from the field with 12 turnovers, sometimes facing a UCR full-court press.
SLOW GO: Washington had a mini stretch where it finally made two field goals, getting perimeter moves in the paint in addition to Argens making her FTs. On defense, however, UW isn’t respecting UCR’s love of the three-pointer. The HIghlanders are just 5-for-16 from the field, but the three made shots from beyond the arch are why they still lead 15-10 with 7:52 remaining in the opening half.
NO GOAL: Over six minutes of play has passed in the opening half and UW hasn’t hit a field goal until freshman Marjorie Heard’s tough move to the hoop around a defender with 13:22 on the clock. UW down 10-6, shooting 1-of-4 from the field.
QUICK CHANGE: Morton is out of the game after committing two turnovers and foul. UCR is taking advantage, going ahead 8-2 with 16:36 remaining in the opening half. Freshman Mercedes Wetmore is in the game for Morton.
Yes, it’s been a while — since Washington has played at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, that is. The Huskies have been away for a month. But instead of crisscrossing the country like last season, UW hasn’t been further than Utah and played as far away as Alaska since its last win at Hec Ed — a 51-50 opener against Portland State.
The teams faced on the road weren’t the big names long-time fans may be used to Washington playing in its nonconference slate. Yet, most have reached the NCAA tournament, which Washington hasn’t done since 2007. So, maybe the confidence gained in a three-game road win streak and buzzer-beaters will help UW when Pac-10 play begins.
Sunday’s opponent surely can. While UC Riverside is part of the so-called “lesser” Big West Conference, the Highlanders have advanced to the NCAA tournament in three of the past four years. UCR, which is off to its best start in Division-I history at 4-2, is a senior-laden squad with depth and good size.
Highlander games aren’t going to light up the scoreboard, averaging 56.5 points while allowing opponents 57.7. But the aggressive defense will be good for Washington to face.
UW will again be without center Regina Rogers (hamstring). Everyone else is healthy and ready to play. So, let’s get you started with this afternoon’s starting lineup:
HIGHLANDERS
F Rheya Neabors
F Rhaya Neabors
C Natasha Hadley
G Alyssa Morris
G TreSho Nottingham
HUSKIES
F Charmaine Barlow
F Mollie Williams
C Mackenzie Argens
G Sarah Morton
G Kristi Kingma

Today’s officials are
Anita Ortega, Shelley Nakasone, and Mazetta Garrett.

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