Husky Women blitz hibernating Bears

Fresh off of back-to-back losses in the Arizona desert last week, the Washington women looked like a different team tonight at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, rolling to a 85-46 victory over the California Golden Bears in front of season-high attendance of 4,007.

Washington (5-3 Pac-10, 10-7) put the hurt on Cal for the game's entire 40 minutes, playing with the aggressiveness and fire that has - for whatever reason - lacked on the road so far this season. The victory improved the Huskies' record in Seattle to 7-2.

The Huskies spread the scoring load around evenly, and when it was all said and done, only three members of the Purple and Gold scored in double-digits. Kellie O'Neill led the way with 12 points, while Loree Payne scored 11 and backup center Sarah Keeler added 10. Just missing double-digits were a host of others: Emily Autrey (9), Kristen O'Neill (9), Andrea Lalum (8), Giuliana Mendiola (7), and Kayla Burt (7).

"We were eager for this game because we were awful in Arizona," said Kellie O'Neill. "We weren't thinking that we wanted to beat them, we wanted to kill them."

"We came with some extra fire," she added.

That may be the understatement of the night. Washington manhandled Cal so badly that its lead twice got up to 49 points midway through the second half.

Holding a commanding 54-20 lead at halftime, the Huskies just kept pouring it on. The came out of the locker room and went on a 21-6 run to make it a laugher by the time the final buzzer sounded. After two half-hearted performances last week, the Huskies' strong effort came as a welcome sign to Washington Head Coach June Daugherty, who's team held Cal to an ice-cold 20.8 percent from the field for the game.

"I think we made big strides in improvement," said Daugherty. "We didn't have a big-letdown (after halftime) and played 40 minutes of basketball, which was nice to see."

It was ugly from the start for the visiting Bears, who came into the game winless in conference play. The Huskies scored the first eight points of the game as the Bears helplessly heaved errant shots that deflected off the iron. Cal's first points didn't come until Leigh Gregory knocked in a straight-away 15-footer 5:06 into the contest.

Holding momentum, the Huskies got an added boost off the bench from Kellie O'Neill, the older of the two O'Neill sisters who had been in the starting lineup in recent weeks. Back in her old role as the first person off the bench, Kellie excelled. She checking into the game and immediately made a difference with her ability to both shoot from the perimeter and run the floor for easy scoring opportunities. She cashed in with a three-pointer to make it 13-3, then hit lay-ins on back-to-back Husky possessions to extend the lead to 14.

O'Neill didn't miss a shot in her nine minutes of action before intermission, scoring 12 points on 4-4 shooting from the field and 2-2 shooting from the charity stripe.

On the other side of the court, it wasn't getting any prettier for the Bears, who continued to struggle to put any points on the board. Ami Forney, the team's leading scorer at 14.3 points per contest, was nowhere to be found. The Husky post players denied Forney the ball and put her in difficult scoring situations, causing the senior to go scoreless in the first half on 0-5 shooting from the field.

Kristen, the other O'Neill sister, came on strong late in the first half and knocked down three consecutive three-pointers, taking Cal out of their zone defense. The last of the trio of long-range shots put the Huskies ahead 54-17 with only 30 seconds left in the half.

Looking to score on its final possession, Cal (0-7 Pac-10, 3-8) called a timeout when sophomore LaTasha O'Keith got trapped near midcourt with 1.5 seconds remaining in the half. With the Husky crowd moaning due what appeared to be an all-but-meaningless timeout, O'Keith brought them to their feet minutes later when she took the inbounds pass and heaved it from halfcourt, hitting nothing but net as the buzzer sounded. Even after the miracle three-pointer, at 54-20, the score didn't look much better for the Bears.

O'Keith finished the game as Cal's lone double-digits scorer, hitting for 10 on the night. Forney, meanwhile, faired little better after halftime and managed only two points for the game.

Game Notes:

Up Next: The Huskies play host to the torrid Stanford Cardinal on Saturday at 3 p.m. After whipping Washington State tonight, Stanford will enter Hec Ed this weekend with a 17-1 record.

Gio Back: Sophomore guard Gioconda Mendiola returned to the lineup tonight after missing the last 41 days with a stress fracture in her lower leg. Her last game appearance was back on December 7 against . Gio scored two points and dished out two assists in 12 minutes.

Brockman Sighting: Freshman forward Kirsten Brockman played 10 minutes tonight, marking her first playing time since playing at St. Mary's on November 30. She finished with four points and one rebound.

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