HUSKIES WIN: No diss to the WBI, it’s a great tournament for teams on the rise. But for the established programs that found themselves floundering for whatever reason, the WNIT is about as low as you should go if a NCAA berth isn’t possible. Washington (18-13) accepted the WNIT and got a 90-71 win for its first traditional postseason victory since upsetting Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2006. Wednesday was no upset, however. After the Huskies got their legs under them, not playing in nearly a week after the conference tournament loss to Stanford (31-1), they ripped off a 16-1 run to establish control of the game against Cal Poly (17-15). Davis and Rogers were the catalysts, everyone finding a way to contribute, however. A-Dub closed it out, getting 12 points and 10 rebounds while Rogers had a career-high tying 27 and Davis scored 20 of her final 25 in the opening half. Davis also had seven assists and one steal and one (read it, again) one turnover in 35 minutes. If it weren’t for the Charley horse midway through the second half, she might have shown Santiago how to go off for 44 and win. But I digress. UW scored a season-high in points and outrebounded Cal Poly 42-25. If you want to rant about something, it was the sketchy start in both halves. True, the Mustangs never closed within single digits after leading early, yet why give a team any confidence in thinking they could? McGuff quickly got control of the team when it did “slip” and it intensified its play for the win. Now it will wait in hopes of playing Utah (15-15) this weekend at Hec Ed. At least that’s what Rogers said, suffering her hamstring injury in the overtime loss in January. “I definitely want to play them, again,” Rogers said. “I sat out the whole second half, so I definitely want to play them again because I didn’t really get to play them.” A-Dub hinted at redemption, not playing the Utes twice during the regular season due to the new Pac-12 alignment. “Since we lost to them in overtime the last game, we’re going to come out with a lot of intensity and something to prove,” she said. Sounds like fighting words. The game site and date will be set by the WNIT, but there’s a strong possibly it’s Saturday at Hec Ed.
BREAK TIME: Leaving the blog to write the newspaper version. I’ll be back for a wrap in a bit. Washington leads 69-53 and barring a total collapse, should have this in the bag. The Huskies will play the winner of the Utah-Utah State game played Thursday on the Utes’ court.
DAVIS BACK: Davis is checking back in the game with 10:58 remaining. She received a warm applause.
WATER PLEASE: Davis is being pumped with liquids in an effort to heal an early diagnosed leg cramp. She’s moved from the entryway to the locker room. Return is questionable. Rogers is holding it down on the court. Getting her own rebound for a putback. She has 23 points and UW is up 68-23 with 11:12 left in the game.
DAVIS HURT?: Davis crumbled to the court and a hush fell over Hec Ed. She’s wallowing in pain as the training staff helps her to her feet. She’s unable to move her right leg and has been laid in the corridor entryway to be evaluated. UW is up 64-47 behind Davis’ game-high 23 points. There’s 12:19 on the clock.
ATMOSPHERE: There’s more pep in Hec Ed for the game than in 2010 for the inaugural Women’s Basketball Invitational, but the attendance isn’t comparable to Washington’s regular-season mark of about 2,000. There’s 809 in the building Wednesday.
HEAT CHECK: Santiago has scored eight of Cal Poly’s 15-7 run to open the second half and UW appears as if it has forgot its scout. Davis also picked up her first turnover of the game. The Mustangs are down 58-43 after trailing by 23 at the break.
HALFTIME: Everything UW has worked on this season was for a game like this. Davis could teach the Huskies men’s team a few things with the way she’s running her team. In her best half of the year (my opinion), she’s scored 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting (4 of 5 from three-point range), orchestrated four assists and has no turnovers with one assist in the opening half. McGuff may not mind turnovers given the way the PG plays, but I’m most impressed with that stat. Especially since it has yet to happen this year. The precise flow has the Huskies up 51-28, the team shooting 65.6 percent overall. Everyone is involved, the bench outscoring Cal Poly’s 10-7 and holding Santiago at a modest nine on 4-for-11 shooting from the field. The Huskies’ point total is a season high. Davis will need to continue to run the offense well and UW has to stay aggressive on the boards to keep Santiago and the Mustangs from getting comfortable.
MO’ STATS: Davis is racking up the stats in UW’s first return to traditional postseason since 2007. She scored 20 points in the opening half for 505 this season becoming the first player since Cameo Hicks to score 500 points or more in a season. Rogers is currently at 488. It’s the fourth time this season Davis has scored 20 points or more in a half, also doing so against Arizona (22), Colorado (21), and Oregon (21).
SEAT WALKER: It’s not a UW game unless Barlow is skipping over rows of seats. The senior just took a trot up the courtside seats, hustling after a loose ball to keep the UW energy up in the game. The Huskies are getting filthy, as the kids say, Davis send a sick fast break pass to senior Mollie Williams for an open score. UW is up 39-25 with 3:34 left in the half.
SANTIAGO OUT: UW successfully took Santiago out of the game, putting her on the bench with two fouls. Cal Poly has had three turnovers in turn and Barlow scored a layup. UW up 32-23 after a basket by Brittany Woodward.
THREE CITY: G Kellie McCann-Smith is in the game to, what else, shoot three-pointers. Hers at the 9:02 mark has the Huskies up 30-21. Per the UW PR staff, McCann-Smith has attempted 75 FGs this season, 54 of them were three-pointers, making 20 so far this season.
ROLL DAWG: Rogers in putting together a highlight tape against the Mustangs defense inside. A smooth spin for a layin has the Huskies up 22-13 with 11:33 remaining in the opening half. Santiago is on the board, though, finding seems in UW’s defense. Rogers leads all scorers with 11 while Santiago and Davis have nine apiece.
WELL COVERED: Santiago is 0-for-3 from the field as UW settles into its system. UW is up 16-9, Davis creating her own offense and scooping a nice pass to Rogers for a score inside the paint.
RECORD HOLDER: Davis passed Loree Payne for the all-time freshmen record for made three-pointers. Davis nailed one in front of the Cal Poly bench for her 61st of the season. The shot plus two FTs by Rogers has the score tied at eight points apiece. There’s a break in play with 15:52 left in the half.
DEFENDS TOO: Santiago, at 6-foot-1, is covering Rogers (6-3). The Mustangs are pretty spirited and first-year UW coach Kevin McGuff has already belted for Rogers to rebound. Turnovers and Cal Poly shooting 75 percent from the field, making both three-point attempts, has the visitors up 8-2 with 17:30 remaining in the first half.
Former Washington assistant coach Kari Duperron accepted hugs from some of her former team and co-workers prior to tip-off. She’s back at her alma mater, Cal Poly, as an assistant after the Tia Jackson era on Montlake last year. Duperron and the Mustangs are getting ready for the Women’s National Invitation Tournament at Edmundson Pavilion.
While Duperron can provide a thorough scout of the Huskies (17-13), the same goes for first-year UW assistant Kevin Morrison and the Mustangs (17-14). He was on Cal’s bench last season when the Bears defeated Cal Poly 74-60 in the opening round of the WNIT last season.
But Mustangs red-shirt senior Kristina Santiago wasn’t part of that postseason berth, suffering a season-ending knee injury one game into the 2010-11 campaign. She’s sixth in the nation in scoring this year, averaging 23.3 points. Add her 10.1 boards and it appears the UW defense will be tested.
Well, Santiago is really the only threat. She’s the only player averaging double figures in scoring and she’s gone off only for her team to lose. She had a career-high 44 points in a one-point road loss at San Diego State in December.
Washington, when it plays well, is the more balanced team led by an inside-out attack from senior C Regina Rogers (16.3 points) and freshman PG Jazmine Davis (16.2). Yet, the Huskies will still have to be focused, rebound, and continue to play aggressive defense.
If UW can get the first win, it could have a solid run in the WNIT, making its first return since 2004. Theoretically, the toughest opponents in UW’s region are Pac-12 conference foes Oregon State, Arizona State, and Utah. Then there’s a possible matchup with a competitive Texas Tech team that could occur if the Huskies were to advance to the quarterfinals.
It still starts with one win. Let’s get you started with the starting lineups:
F Caroline Reeves
F Kayla Griffin
F Kristina Santiago
G Ariana Elegado
G Ashlee Burns
F Charmaine Barlow
F Mackenzie Argens
C Regina Rogers
G Jazmine Davis
G Mercedes Wetmore
Tonight’s officials are Penny Davis, Paul Patterson, and Julie Vanni.