TREY BIEN: If SPU were a little taller or stronger inside, they probably could have pulled an upset with their three-point shooting. Washington is giving up the shot and SPU is 6-for-17 from beyond the arch. The Falcons also remain in the rebounding game, trailing that category 34-33. But the difference maker is McLellan, who has 18 points and six boards to keep UW ahead 64-52 with 3:13 remaining.
UNINSPIRED: Washington is ahead 51-45 with 10:22 remaining in the game, but aren’t acting like it. The team walked out of the locker room at the break and players are lifeless on the bench. Meanwhile SPU is energized and its fans are lively. Not a good sign.
HALFTIME: With three consecutive layins by McLellan, the Huskies re-built a 10-point lead in the final minutes of the opening half. Defense is still suspect for UW, but SPU missed the second-chance shot opportunities. McLellan leads the Huskies at the break with 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the field. Whitcomb is shooting 50 percent from the field for nine points. Henderson has 10 for the Falcons. UW is 1-for-5 from three-point range compared to SPU’s 4-for-9 showing. The Falcons are outrebounding the Huskies 18-17.
MISSING CONSISTENCY: Both teams seem to still be settling into the matchup. Washington is having trouble rebounding and focusing on the defensive end. Meanwhile SPU is making some mental errors, but hitting three-pointers to pull back within 23-19 with 7:28 remaining in the opening half. Both teams are rotating a lot of players, experimenting with different looks.
QUICK FOULS: Rogers couldn’t stay on the court, picking up back-to-back fouls when re-inserted in the game. A lineup of Mosiman, McLellan, Whitcomb, Morton and Mackenzie Argens helped the Huskies build a 12-9 lead with 13:30 remaining. Whitcomb had the highlight with her pass through the paint to McLellan for a layin.
QUICK SUB: With Henderson driving easily baseline against Rogers, Jackson made a quick sub to put last year’s starter, Laura McLellan, in the game. Henderson is 3-for-3 from the field to give the Falcons a 9-8 lead with 16:00 remaining in the first half.
AH, HELLO?: Washington tried to continue its tradition of greeting officials along with its opponent during pregame warmups, but refs Szeremeta and Sundheim weren’t having it. They stood with folded arms and refused to shake the student-athletes’ hands. Washington continued to try, one-by-one, creating an awkward moment. Finally teammates called off Rogers’ attempt, the final UW player introduced.
SPOTTED: WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes and her partner are in the house. Swoopes is scheduled to play in an exhibition game at the University of Montana on Sunday. She plays locally on what Seattle University assistant Joy Hollingsworth called the WNBA rec team. “They always win,” Hollingsworth said. Storm coach Brian Agler, who cut Swoopes, said he’s helping her land an overseas job.
Exorcizing a rocky 2008-09 campaign isn’t going to be easy for Washington. But the team starts the shedding tonight with an exhibition matchup against Seattle Pacific, which is ranked No. 16 in the USA Today/ESPN Division II coaches’ poll.
The Falcons last faced the Huskies in preseason play in 2007, defeating their cross-town foes 75-67. SPU is a solid test for UW, again, with a balanced roster of experienced players who finished 23-5 last year. They advanced to the D-II tournament regional finals and No. 7 ranking in the polls.
But Washington returns 12 players, including center Regina Rogers (transfer) and Charmaine Barlow (suspension). The Huskies are without forwards Liz Lay and Lydia Young due to knee injuries, but coach Tia Jackson has plenty to select from.
Players worked hard during the offseason to improve conditioning and various skill-sets for the season. Senior F Sami Whitcomb, who Jackson pegged to be a WNBA prospect, said she worked on her court vision, hoping to be a better passer. She was the team’s leading scorer last year (12.8), notorious for her dribble-drive.
UW also simply healed from numerous injuries, which will help their play this season. Still, it’s all talk. The only true proof is in the performance on the court.
So, let’s get to it with your starting lineups:
F Megan Hoisington
F Daesha Henderson
C Melissa Reich
G Jordan Harazin
G Maddie Maloney
F Kristi Kingma
F Sami Whitcomb
C Regina Rogers
G Sarah Morton
G Sara Mosiman
Tonight’s officials are Wanda Szeremeta, Jay Schumaker, and Laura Sundheim.