Husky women cruise past Sun Devils

If Giuliana Mendiola was hoping for the perfect gift for her 21st birthday, she got it, and then some. Her Washington team rode the birthday girl's back early and never looked back, cruising to a 69-56 win over a tough Arizona State team Thursday night at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

Mendiola shot 6-8 from the field in the first half, and added a 4-4 mark from the free throw line to score 17 points before intermission. Her totals alone outscored the Sun Devils by three, who scored only 14 in the first half.

The junior point guard finished with a game-high 22 points.

"Giuliana played great," said Washington coach June Daugherty. "I thought that her leadership and how hard she was playing helped the rest of the team follow suit."

The Huskies (11-2, 3-1 Pac-10) raced ahead 33-14 as the teams headed to the locker rooms.

Arizona State (10-4, 2-3) fell behind due to their inability to get open looks in Washington's tough zone defense, and failed to capitalize when the open shots were there. They shot just 6-29 in the game's first 20 minutes, a putrid 20.7 percent from the field.

Washington, playing with their hearts on their sleeves for fallen teammate Kayla Burt, who's career ended abruptly last week because of a rare heart condition, kept Arizona State in the rear view mirror after halftime with steady play from each and every player.

Senior forward Emily Autrey finished with 12 points and four rebounds, proving to be too quick for any Sun Devil defender time and time again throughout the game. When it was all said and done, though, she said the team had only one thing on its mind all game.

"The main thing tonight was just having Kayla with us," Autrey said.

Mendiola echoed her teammates sentiments, "I just wanted to win this game for Kayla," Giuliana said.

Arizona State shot 50 percent in the second half, but the large improvement came far too late to make any difference in the final score. The closest the team from the desert of the southwest would come after half time is 13 points, which came on a jumper from Kristen Kovesdy with 16 seconds to play.

That came, however, with three of UW's deepest reserves in the game for the final four minutes of play.

ASU was led by the 18 points of forward Amy Denson and 11 from guard Kylan Loney.

"The (UW) players are giving all they can at this point," said Daugherty, "and they are getting better."

Once a Husky, always a Husky: Kayla Burt, who's basketball career ended unexpectedly nine days ago when she went into cardiac arrest on New Year's Eve, was announced as the team's honorary "sixth starter" prior to the game and received a 45-second ovation from the home crowd. Burt sat between the coaches on the bench, and was all smiles for the game's duration. After the game, Burt spoke to the 4,017 in attendance with an uplifting speech that drew cheers from everyone present.

"Just having her on the bench was pretty special," Daugherty said after the game.

"It was definitely different sitting between all the coaches and hearing all they had to say," laughed Burt after the game with the media huddled around her. "Just to walk out there was really special. There's no better place to be (than Hec Ed). To hear that roar from the crowd hits you real close and it's awesome."

New Faces: Three little-used players got the opportunity for playing time late in the contest. Freshmen Nicole Castro – an Australian, Erica Schelly, and senior walk-on Alicia Heathcote held their own in the final minutes.

In the Crowd: Several current and former Husky athletes made the trip to Hec Ed for the game tonight. The list included current football players Brandon Ala, Donny Mateaki, Sam Cunningham, Zach Tuiasosopo, Khalif Barnes, Terry Johnson and Justin Robbins. Eldridge Recasner, a star hoopster at UW in the mid 1980's, sat behind one of the baskets as well.

Up Next: The Huskies face Arizona at home on Saturday. Tipoff is late, set for 8 p.m. Washington then heads to the Bay Area for games at California next Thursday at 7 p.m., and at Stanford on Saturday at noon.

Husky Stats:
Points: Giu. Mendiola 22, Autrey 12, Payne 7, Keeler 7, Lalum 6, Sorenson 5, Gio. Mendiola 3, O'Neill 3, Schelly 2, Castro 2

Rebounds: Giu. Mendiola 10, Lalum 5, Autrey 4, Keeler 4, Sorenson 4, Payne 3, O'Neill 2, Schelly 1

Assists: Giu. Mendiola 5, O'Neill 4, Payne 4, Keeler 2, Gio. Mendiola 2, Sorenson 2, Lalum 1

Steals: O'Neill 2, Giu. Mendiola 1, Payne 1, Keeler 1, Gio. Mendiola 1

Blocks: Giu. Mendiola 1, Keeler 1

The Joy of Life
By HoopGurlz & UW Sports Information

Just two days after being released from the hospital, Washington sophomore guard Kayla Burt was introduced as the Huskies' sixth starter and prompted an emotional 69-56 victory over Arizona State. The day before, she spoke about the heart condition that nearly took her life and her teammates who saved it.

FULL STORY | Posted Jan 10, 2003
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