Huskies roll over Waves in Women’s NIT

  • John Sleeper / Herald Writer
  • Friday, March 19, 2004 9:00pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE – All season, the University of Washington women’s basketball team gradually adjusted to a radical change in its defensive scheme.

On Friday night, the Huskies pretty well nailed it down in a 71-59 victory against Pepperdine in the first round of the Women’s NIT before 1,748 at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

The Huskies aggressively ground the Waves into ripples with game-long smothering harassment and forced them into a horrid shooting night to win comfortably.

“I think we did some real good things defensively in the first half and I like the way we owned the glass,” UW coach June Daugherty said. “It’s been a couple areas that we’ve really been focusing on.”

Washington forced the Waves into just 35-percent shooting and held a hefty 54-41 advantage on the boards. Senior center Andrea Lalum led the way with 22 points and 11 rebounds, both game highs. Senior guard Giuliana Mendiola added 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

Both teams were sloppy from layoffs, not having played since their respective conference championships. Washington last played March 7, losing to Arizona in the Pacific-10 Tournament semifinals.

The rust appeared mostly on the offensive end. The Waves were just 12-of-26 from the free-throw line. Washington shot 35 percent for the game, but through a great defensive effort, took a 39-22 lead at the half.

Washington used a 13-3 run in the first half to take a 22-9 lead and were never in trouble after that. Giuliana Mendiola, Gioconda Mendiola and Angie Jones all converted 3-pointers in the decisive streak.

“We came out with a good first half,” Lalum said. “In the second half, we kind of let up. We were off for two weeks and we were just sick of playing each other.”

The Huskies (18-12) play Creighton at 3 p.m. Sunday at Hec Ed in the second round. Creighton beat Colorado State 79-68 Friday night in Fort Collins, Colo.

The rust, however, did nothing detrimental to the UW defense. Pepperdine (17-13) managed to convert just 27 percent of their attempts from the floor in the first half.

The UW advantage reached 19 points at 47-28 after Giuliana Mendiola hit a jumper in the lane with 16 minutes remaining in the game. The Waves made a minor comeback when guard Shandrika Lee nailed some 3-pointers to cut the UW advantage to 53-41 with 12 minutes left, but could get no closer.

“Once we got to the second half, we learned we could play these guys,” Waves coach Mark Trakh said.

It was that, but Washington also was guilty of a mental lapse once it got a big lead, Lalum said.

“When you look up at the scoreboard and you’re up by 20, you can’t let up,” Lalum said. “They hit a couple threes and before you know it, we were up 10 or 12. That’s something we need to have in the backs of our minds. They never let up.”

Shanell law and Nicole Funn led the Waves with 14 points apiece. Lee added 11.

Should the Huskies get by Creighton, they would be on the road for the rest of the tournament unless they reach the title game. The NCAA Women’s West Regional comes to set up shop at Hec Ed starting Monday, leaving the home gym unavailable for the week.

The regional tournament is March 27 and 29.

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