Huskies take three-game winning streak to Bay Area
Washington women, 3-1 in Pac-10 play, hope to do better than last season's losses at Cal, Stanford.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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A collection of 11 digital recorders and microphones were placed in front of Washington coach Tia Jackson on Tuesday — her largest gathering of media since the season started.
They expected enthusiasm for Jackson's best start since being hired in 2007.
"I can do some cartwheels if you want," she joked.
Truthfully, she was already thinking about the pile of game film left on her desk after Saturday's victory over Arizona.
Washington (8-6, 3-1 Pac-10) is riding its first three-game winning streak since February 2008. But this week's trip to the Bay Area marks a depth Jackson is preparing her team not to relive.
Washington faces California (6-8, 0-3) Thursday. The Bears beat the Huskies by 28 points last season. A game at No. 2 Stanford (13-1, 3-0) is Saturday. The Cardinal defeated the Huskies by a conference-record 77 points last season.
It was the worst weekend in Huskies women's basketball history.
"That game, to me, represents the whole year," said Huskies senior Sami Whitcomb of last season's loss to Stanford, which also set a Washington record for margin of defeat. "We've come a long way."
How far? Well, the women are playing as a cohesive unit and have a better conference record than the UW men, who fell out of the national rankings after a 1-3 Pac-10 start.
You have to scroll back to 2007 when the women were led by current Washington State coach June Daugherty for the last time the program could boast about that.
Then, the Huskies women were in the midst of a five-game winning streak to open Pac-10 play. The men were 1-3 after two weeks of conference play.
Senior center Laura McLellan, a freshman on that 2006-07 team, said the Huskies can't get cocky,
"This is almost new to us," said McLellan, who scored a season-high 15 points against Arizona. "It's not like we've been here. So, we definitely have to work hard every day and not get comfortable with where we're at.
"Definitely no trash talk as far as the men's team goes. We've been there and we know how it feels. You have to have as much support as you can get when you're down on yourself. We're just trying to tell them to stay positive."
Continuing the winning trend is plausible for the women against the Bears.
Cal features a potent backcourt in senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson and freshman DeNesha Stallworth, who combine to help the Bears rank third in the conference in scoring (69.5). But Cal is far from the imposing team that finished 27-7 last season, reaching its first Sweet 16 appearance with current Storm forward Ashley Walker anchoring the inside.
The Bears started four freshmen in losses to Stanford and USC. And despite Stallworth's scoring outbursts, including a season-high 30 points against USC on Sunday, Cal is still looking for its first Pac-10 win.
"Cal is aggressive and extremely athletic," said Jackson, whose Huskies haven't won at Haas Pavilion since February 2007. "[Stallworth] outran USC's bigs up and down the floor."
Jackson continued to harp on defense and rebounding to her team in practice, telling them it's early in the conference season, so don't celebrate the winning streak too much.
"I don't let us forget where we came from," she said.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com