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Monday, February 18, 2013 - Page updated at 09:00 p.m.
Washington women focus on trip to struggling Oregon State | Husky women's basketball
By Jayda Evans
Seattle Times staff reporter
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Washington and Oregon State's Jan. 25 women's basketball game proved to be a pivotal point in the teams' respective seasons.
"I saw us really come together," said UW freshman Katie Collier, who's out this season because of a knee injury.
Without leading scorer Jazmine Davis (concussion), the Huskies defeated the Beavers 81-77 in overtime at Alaska Airlines Arena. The outcome highlighted a six-game winning streak, giving the Huskies hope of their first NCAA tournament berth since 2007.
Meanwhile, OSU's season spun the other way. The Beavers lost back-to-back overtime matchups, falling at Washington State 76-73 on Jan. 27, igniting a current seven-game losing streak.
The Cougars used a bucket in the final seconds to defeat OSU 51-49 at Gill Coliseum on Friday. OSU (9-16, 3-10 Pac-12) hosts UW (18-6, 10-3) on Monday. The game will air on Pac-12 Networks.
"You look back over the last month and you have two games we absolutely could've won in Washington," OSU coach Scott Rueck said. "But there's not a whole lot to hang our head about ... This team just needs to keep believing, and they'll get a break before too long."
A controversial call led to Oregon State's loss at Washington in January. The Huskies were down by three with four seconds remaining in regulation when OSU sophomore guard Ali Gibson fouled UW senior Kristi Kingma on a three-point attempt.
Gibson believed she had a clean block. Instead, Kingma went to the foul line and tied the score on free throws. She made a school-record 15 of 15 free throws as part of her 29 points to buoy the win.
After Monday, Washington plays at Utah (14-11, 5-9) on Friday before finishing the regular season against No. 21 Colorado, No. 4 Stanford and No. 6 California. Some conference coaches predict UW needs a win against one of the ranked opponents to advance to the NCAA tourney.
"Oregon State is a lot better than their record shows," Kingma said. "We have to go in ready to fight. And coach (Kevin) McGuff does such a good job in making sure we only think about the next game. But it's tough. You're thinking, 'We've got to get a signature win.' But ultimately, if you don't take care of Oregon State, if you don't take care of the next game in front of you, those games (against ranked opponents) don't matter."
Washington rallied from a 19-point deficit to beat San Diego State 59-58 in December. Redshirt freshman Talia Walton scored a three-pointer with seven seconds remaining to clinch the victory, which remains UW's sole signature win.
The Aztecs (19-5, 10-1 Mountain West) have an NCAA RPI ranking of 43, which helps the Huskies' weaker schedule. But in ESPN's latest bracketology release, UW is one of the first four teams out of contention for the NCAA tournament's 33 at-large bids.
The champion of the Pac-12 tournament — March 7-10 at KeyArena — receives an automatic NCAA tournament berth. Stanford (24-2, 13-1) has won the past six Pac-12 tournament championships.
"This is really where we have to get rid of all of the little errors and prepare ourselves to play the top three," said Walton of using OSU and Utah as exhibition games. "We've just got to keep working hard like we have been, and I think we'll end up where we want to be at the end of the year."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @JaydaEvans
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