UW women look to challenge themselves next season

  • By Mike Allende / Herald Writer
  • Monday, July 17, 2006 9:00pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE – With all five starters returning from a team that reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament, it figured that the Washington women’s basketball team would challenge itself in the 2006-07 season. And judging by the team’s schedule released Monday, that’s just what the Huskies are going to do.

Nine opponents on the schedule qualified for last season’s NCAA Tournament, and seven of them reached at least the second round.

The non-conference schedule is particularly difficult, with four NCAA teams and two WNIT teams, as well as another 21-win team, set to take on the Huskies. That’s on top of five Pacific-10 opponents who reached the NCAA Tournament last season.

Washington opens the season with a pair of exhibition games against the University of Regina (Nov. 1) and the Australian Institute of Sport (Nov. 5), both at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

The Huskies then open the regular season with three straight road games. Washington plays at Marquette on Nov. 14, at Purdue on Nov. 17 and at Eastern Washington on Nov. 21. Marquette went 22-11 last season and reached the WNIT championship game, and Purdue was 26-7 and went to the NCAA Sweet 16. Eastern was 13-15 and features former Snohomish star Sydney Benson and former Snohomish County Christian standout Tara Holgate.

Washington’s regular-season home debut comes on Nov. 25 and 26 with the 20th Annual Husky Classic. The field is led by Northern Iowa, which went 19-11 and reached the WNIT, and also includes Saint Louis (7-20) and Miami of Ohio (8-20).

The Huskies then go on the road to Ohio, where they will meet Kent State on Nov. 30 and Ohio State on Dec. 3. The Ohio State matchup may be the marquee one of the season. The Buckeyes went 29-3 last season, earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament before being upset in the second round by Boston College, and return standout center Jessica Davenport (18.7 points, 8.9 rebounds). UW coaches June and Mike Daugherty both played collegiately at Ohio State. Kent State is no slouch either, having gone 21-9 last season.

The Huskies end the preseason with four straight at home, starting with Texas A&M on Dec. 6, followed by Nevada-Reno (Dec. 10), Gonzaga (Dec. 15) and Florida State (Dec. 17). Texas A&M was 23-9 and reached the first round of the NCAAs, and Florida State was 20-10 and went to the second round. Nevada finished 13-17 and Gonzaga was 16-14.

The Pac-10 schedule begins Dec. 21 at Oregon. The first conference home game is Dec. 28 against USC.

The Huskies return 11 letterwinners from a 19-11 team, including all-conference players Cameo Hicks and Andrea Plouffe.

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