UW women beat Oregon State, reach WNIT quarterfinals
Regina Rogers scored 23 points and Washington notched its first 20-win season since 2003 while advancing in the WNIT with a 55-49 victory.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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CORVALLIS, Ore. — Finally, the reserved Mollie Williams danced a little jig.
The Washington senior usually contains her emotions, as she did when her long jumper took an awkward bounce before falling through the hoop to give UW a five-point lead late in Tuesday night's game. It hushed Oregon State's crowd and gave Washington the momentum it needed to seal a 55-49 Women's National Invitation Tournament victory at Gil Coliseum.
The win sends the Huskies to the WNIT quarterfinals and secures UW's first 20-win season since 2003.
After three consecutive losing seasons, including last year's 11-17 finish that resulted in coach Tia Jackson's resignation, Williams celebrated with a cabbage-patch dance move while teammate Regina Rogers spoke about the significance of the record.
"We wanted to leave a legacy and I feel like that's what we're starting to do," said Rogers, a fifth-year senior. "We want to show our freshmen and sophomores that anything can happen. You look at our last season compared to this season and I feel that we're progressing the right way."
This weekend, Washington (20-13) plays the winner of Thursday's game in Lubbock, Texas, between San Diego (24-8) and Texas Tech (21-13). The quarterfinal game will be at a site to be determined by WNIT bidding.
Tuesday's game was there for either team to grab, epitomized by a loose-ball play midway through the second half. OSU junior Sage Indendi just stared as Washington freshman Jazmine Davis hustled to gain the possession.
Davis turned the play into an assist to Rogers, giving the Huskies a 39-36 lead. After Washington threatened to pull away, Indendi made a three-pointer for OSU to close the gap to 48-43. But Williams responded with her basket from the top of the key and made five of six free throws down the stretch.
"It was getting late in the game and I knew every possession really counted," Davis said of the loose ball she corralled. "I just went for it, even if I was going to bump into her. I just went for it."
Rogers led all scorers with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Williams added 12 points and eight rebounds.
First-year UW coach Kevin McGuff said he will give the team Wednesday off after returning to Seattle. He said the players will begin a light prep on both possible opponents at Thursday's practice.
The rest will be good for senior Mackenzie Argens, who injured her left knee in the first half against the Beavers (20-14). She didn't start the second half and played only four more minutes. Williams took many of her minutes.
"We've made so much progress this year and I think they want to continue to play," McGuff said of his players. "This (the WNIT) is turning out to be a great experience for us."
Washington struggled to get its offense going in the first half, with Beavers junior center Patricia Bright blocking five shots and UW shooting 28.1 percent.
At halftime, McGuff encouraged the guards to get Rogers the ball and the Huskies shot 40.9 percent after the break. They outscored OSU 15-5 on second-chance shots overall.
"I told them at halftime that if we could get the same shots that (Regina) got in the first half, I thought we'd win the game because she wasn't finishing like she normally does," McGuff said. Williams made a difference, too.
"She played really well again tonight, and it was a huge shot," McGuff said.
A shot and a win that makes you want to dance.
|OREGON STATE (20-13)|
Attendance: 1,150. Officials: Cathi Cornell, Bart Baldwin, Jim Morrell. Technical fouls: None.