Ranked Huskies welcome USC and UCLA

Winners of nine-straight at home, and 14 of their last 16 overall, the Husky women look to keep the heat on league-leading <!--Default NodeId For Stanford is 555,2005--><A HREF=http://stanford.TheInsiders.com>Stanford</A> when they continue their home-stand against former UW coach Chris Gobrecht's <!--Default NodeId For USC is 557,2005--><A HREF=http://usc.TheInsiders.com>USC</A> Trojans tonight at BOA.

THURSDAY: USC (4-5, 9-11) at #25 Washington (7-2, 15-3)
SATURDAY: UCLA (6-3, 11-7) at #25 Washington
Both games: 7:00 PM – Bank of America Arena, Seattle – KKNW-AM (1150)
USC Series All-time: Washington leads, 21-13
UCLA Series All Time: Washington leads, 23-12
Previous meetings: UW 83, at USC 81 (OT), UCLA 72, UW 46

Then on Saturday, Washington will get a chance at revenge against UCLA, who dismantled a tired and distraught Husky bunch just three days after starting guard Kayla Burt was felled (and subsequently revived by teammates and paramedics) by a stopped heart on New Year's Eve.

Coming off an impressive sweep of the Oregon schools last week, whisking by Arizona and UCLA into second place - just a half-game behind Stanford - in the process, the going won't be easy for June Daugherty's troops when the L.A. schools come to call.

"It's in our hands now", says all-everything Giuliana Mendiola. "We know what we have to do."

First there is USC, riding in on a three-game winning streak – including a 75-72 upset of fifth-ranked Stanford. The Trojans will look to avenge an emotional overtime loss to Washington on January 5. They are led by 6-2 center Ebony Hoffman, averaging 15.4 points and 10 boards per game, and 5-10 guard Rometra Craig, averaging 13.3 points. Craig was named the PAC-10 player of the week for her 19-point effort in the upset of the Cardinal. 6-1 forward Rachel Woodward averages 10 per contest. All-conference guard Aisha Hollins suffered a knee injury a week ago against Cal, and will not play.

In the Huskies' victory over USC in Los Angeles, Giuliana led the way with 23 points, including the game-winner with 17 seconds left. It was the fourth overtime the two teams had played in their last seven meetings.

Then on Saturday, the PAC-10's scoring and steals leader, senior Michelle Greco (19.3 ppg), will lead in UCLA. Greco was granted an extra year of eligibility after having to sit out most of last season, the result of a series of mild concussions. Cat-quick freshman Nikki Blue has had an outstanding first year, averaging over 15 per contest. Another big-time freshman, Julia Pitts, suffered a season-ending knee injury after averaging 10 points over her first eight games. UCLA averages over 75 points per outing, so the game could be a shoot-out. The Bruins dropped a heartbreaking 80-78 decision to Stanford before being upset by visiting Cal 69-61 last Sunday.

Freshman Lisa Willis led the Bruins with 17 points in the team's first encounter, as UCLA held a dispirited Washington to 23 percent from the floor. The Huskies would miss 17 of their first 20 shots and get no closer than eight points in the second half in a game they clearly weren't ready to play.

Rick Samek can be reached at RSAMEK1@ATTBI.COM – until they change the address again!

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