Payne too much for Oregon

Loree Payne ended her recent shooting struggles in a major way Thursday night, tying a career-high with 29 points, including 18 in the second half to lead the Washington Husky women to a 79-60 victory over the rival Oregon Ducks at Hec Edmundson Pavilion in Seattle.

The win for Washington (14-3, 6-2 Pac-10) was their largest margin of victory over Oregon (6-11, 2-6 Pac-10) since a 22-point victory in Eugene in 1978.

Payne, whom Washington Coach June Daugherty has often referred to as one of the purest shooters in the country, was on fire from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

She finished 9-14 from the field and 6-10 from three-point territory.

"Sheeeeee's Baaaack," said Daugherty, referring to her sharp-shooting senior from Havre, Montana.

"Fortunately for Loree, she knew that we all had confidence in her – her teammates, her coaches, her fans. The great thing is that Loree doesn't stop shooting, and that's what great shooters have to do. They have to keep shooting to find their way back."

After the game, Payne said how important it was for her and her teammates to put the loss last Saturday at Stanford behind them.

"My mindset coming into the game was to forget about everything in the past," she said. "We wrote on the board before the game, ‘history is what you make tomorrow.' I think that just having that mindset going in (helped us)."

"I know that the seniors are starting to feel like there are limited games left in their careers, and we are all coming out and playing like every game is our last."

Kellie Dalan, one of the five seniors on the team, returned to the lineup after missing the past eight games with a stress fracture in her foot. She was cleared to play in shoot-around before the game.

Dalan immediately made her presence felt by adding a rebounding presence inside on a Husky team ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in rebounding and in dire need of help under the boards. In her first offensive possession, Dalan grabbed rebound from an Emily Autrey miss and laid it home as the crowd of 4,299 came to their feet to applaud the play.

"(It felt) awesome," said Dalan of her return to the court. " There's not much more I can say."

It was Dalan's younger sister, however, Kristen O'Neill, who put the team on her back when it came to hitting the glass hard for rebounds. O'Neill, the team's 6-1 point guard, led the team with a career-high 12 rebounds, tying the season team-high set by Giuliana Mendiola against Houston in December.

"To be plus 12 (in rebounding) against a big front line like Oregon is exciting," said Daugherty. "It's definitely progress. We are just looking to improve right now."

The Huskies blew the game wide open in the second half after struggling to find a defensive rhythm for the game's first 20 minutes.

Oregon, playing without it's best player Cathrine Kraayeveld, who suffered a staff infection recently, battled hard to stay even with the home-town Huskies after falling behind early. Down by as much as eight midway through the first half, the Ducks rallied with a 14-5 run to pull ahead late in the first half.

Freshman Carolyn Ganes led the charge, scoring nine of Oregon's points during the stretch. She finished with a team-high 24 points, and gave the Huskies fits with her inside and outside presence.

But Washington opened the second half with fire in their eyes, and immediately began to pull away thanks to the torrid shooting of Payne.

Payne scored 16 points before 12 minutes had elapsed after halftime as the Huskies pulled ahead with a comfortable 64-46 lead.

That gave them enough lee-way to give their younger players playing time late in the game. Nicole Castro, a redshirt freshman from Australia, played five minutes. Alicia Heathcote got three minutes, and Erica Schelly had two.

Three Huskies other than Payne chipped in with double digits scoring on the night. Mendiola had 13, and Autrey and Andrea Lalum each added 11.

Ganes was the only Duck to score in double-digits.

Game Notes:
Up Next: The women Huskies continue their four-game homestand on Saturday with a 5 p.m. tipoff versus Oregon State. Next week the Huskies will host the two Southern California schools. USC comes to Hec Ed first. That game is set for Thursday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m. Washington then wraps up the homestand with UCLA on Saturday, Feb. 1. Start time for that one is 1 p.m.

Callin' for Dalan: Senior Kellie Dalan returned to action after missing the past month with a stress fracture in her foot. The Husky crowd knew of her situation, and made Dalan feel welcome with a warm round of applause that lasted nearly 10 seconds when she entered the game with 13:47 to go in the first half.

Husky Stats:
Points: Payne 29, Giu. Mendiola 13, Lalum 11, Autrey 11, Keeler 4, Sorenson 3, Gio. Mendiola 3, Dalan 2, Heathcote 2

Rebounds: O'Neill 12, Giu. Mendiola 8, Autrey 4, Dalan 3, Keeler 3, Lalum 2, Heathcote 1, Payne 1, Castro 1, Sorenson 1

Assists: O'Neill 6, Giu. Mendiola 6, Autrey 2, Lalum 1, Payne 1, Heathcote 1, Sorenson 1

Steals: O'Neill 2, Autrey 1, Lalum 1, Giu. Mendiola 1, Keeler 1

Blocks: Autrey 1 Top Stories