Husky Women Run to Victory

The University of Washington women's basketball team kicked off its 2001-2002 season today with a convincing 81-57 win over the Women's Basketball League Elite in an exhibition game in front of 2,043 fans at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

Washington took a nine point lead to half, and outscored the visitors 45-30 after intermission to win handily. Four Huskies scored in double figures to pace the home team.

The game got away from the Elite team in a 10 minute span in the first half.

With Washington clinging to a one-point lead, the Huskies went on a 20-5 run that made it 31-15 with 5:21 remaining in the half. The visitors would never again get closer than five.

It was a tremendous test for the June Daugherty's team given the skill level of the opponent, which included four players from the WNBA, two from the now defunct ABL, and two others from European pro leagues.

"It was a good start for us and a good team (to go up against) for an exhibition game," Daughtery said after the game.

Point guard Tamicha Jackson, a 5-6 lighting quick ball handler from the Portland Fire of the WNBA, was a headache for the Huskies on both ends of the court. She played tenacious defense and was unstoppable on one-on-one situations offensively.

"Jackson is one of the quickest guards in around," Daugherty said after the game.

She finished the contest 11-22 from the field with 26 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and four steals.

Jackson's presence proved to be a great test for the young Husky backcourt combination of sophomore Gioconda Mendiola and true freshman Kristen O'Neill. It made each of them really have to quarterback the offense and take command while being pressured at the same time.

They came through it alright, each committing a respectable two turnovers. O'Neill finished with six points in 18 minutes, and Gio. Mendiola had three points in 14 minutes. All nine of their points came via the three pointer.

O'Neill said that assistant coach Mike Daugherty told her before the game that if she could hang with Jackson, she could play with anybody around. Mike's wife, June, liked what she saw from the freshman in her first game.

"Kristen did a very fair job of taking care of the basketball," the head coach said. "She did a great job both offensively and defensively, and did a remarkable job of knowing the system. I couldn't have been more pleased with her."

Fellow freshman Kayla Burt showed no fear in her 17 minutes on the court and played very aggressively all game long. She looked to get to the basket and went to the free throw line eight times, hitting five shots. She had 11 points for the game, getting in double figures with a last second tip-in before the final horn sounded.

Juniors Loree Payne and Emily Autrey led the Huskies with 12 points apiece. Both hit two three pointers and spent much of the afternoon getting in transition.

Autrey started and played exclusively at the power forward spot, a place where Daugherty envisions her being more of a presence on the court. It's a position that requires less ball handling than small forward, where she played in years past. The move worked wonders today as Autrey routinely beat opposing post players down the floor and lost defenders for easy layin baskets.

"Emily will be able to put people into the floor because she's faster than any other post player out there," said freshman forward Heather Brockman, who has to deal with Autrey's quickness during every Husky practice.

Autry also contributed three rebounds to go with a block and a steal in 19 minutes.

Payne came out firing from the get go - what a surprise - and was on the mark sparking the team to an early lead. She finished 4-8 from the field, 2-2 from the line, and had three assists and three rebounds in 24 minutes.

Giuliana Mendiola played a well-rounded game as well with 11 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. After the game, she said the team will look to play a different style this year.

"We went to the transition game to get more easy looks at the basket," she said. "We've got a lot of people that can run the floor."

That plays into Washington's strengths nicely. Not many centers run the floor better than the two that the Huskies currently have in Andrea Lalum and Sarah Keeler. Lalum pulled down 13 rebounds, many coming as a reward for her hustle to get to the basket. Keeler, who missed last season with a knee injury, was extremely mobile despite her history with knee problems and scored four points in 11 minutes.

Daugherty said she liked what she saw from her team, particulary the improvement in its man-to-man defense from last season. She also noted that there are still areas that the team needs to improve upon before the regular season starts.

"We lacked a little bit of intensity and had some rotation problems in zones, but those are things that are correctable," she said. "There's no doubt that we are ahead of where we were at this time last."

Early impressions of the newcomers
Kayla Burt: Extremely quick off the dribble. Shoots left-handed from the hip. Can get to the dish, and likes to as often as possible. Will run the court and take the role that Franza vacated.

Kristen O'Neill: Has a pretty jumper. Is calm with the ball in her hands, and comfortable on the court. Can hang in there against the quickest of guards. Is a smooth player whose athleticism is easily apparent. At 6-1, has great height for a point guard, and will be a matchup problem for opposing guards.

Heather Brockman: Very strong and athletic, will be asked to rebound. Can run the court and shoot the ball. Is tough inside the paint and confident in her game. Finishes well.

Redshirt Freshman:
Sarah Keeler: Stands 6-4 but can run the floor. Has a soft jumper and is steady from the line. Can shoot from the outside. Blocks out well on rebounds. Must continue to improve on defense. Top Stories