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UW Women Open Tourney At Purdue

Associated Press

The University of Washington women’s basketball team scored an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament Sunday.

The No. 13-seeded Huskies were matched against No. 4-seeded Purdue at the Boilermakers’ home court in the first round of the women’s tourney in pairings announced in Kansas City, Mo.

“We’re so elated to be part of the tournament. It’s like a whole new season,” said Gena Pelz, one of the team’s three graduating seniors.

Finishing fifth place in the Pacific 10 conference, Washington overcame a lackluster first half to even its conference record. The Huskies ended the season with an 18-9 record overall and 9-9 in the Pac-10.

Purdue has a 20-9 record overall and is 10-6 in the Big Ten conference.

“Once we got a little fire under us, we were like a freight train and nobody could stop us for quite a while,” said Anne Teel, another senior.

When asked Sunday about her team being the dark horse in the NCAA tournament, coach June Daugherty said: “You just go out and you play them. Dark horse, whatever horse, you just play hard.”

Arizona reaping rewards

It was a day of “firsts” for the Arizona women’s basketball program.

The program received first- and second-round games of a women’s NCAA East Regional on Sunday, the first in Tucson.

Arizona (21-6), is seeded third and will have the homecourt advantage Friday night for its game against No. 14 Santa Clara (23-7).

In addition, the Pac-10 announced Adia Barnes as its player of the year and Joan Bonvicini as coach of the year. No Arizona player or coach had ever won the conference award.

“This is a very big day for this program,” Bonvicini said. “It shows how far we have come in the last few years. We have built this program up and earned a lot of respect.”

Barnes, a senior forward, led the Pac-10 Conference in scoring at 21.9 points per game, and the Wildcats in rebounding (6.9).

The tournament bid is only the second in school history for Arizona. Last year, the Wildcats, a No. 7 seed, beat Western Kentucky in the first round, but lost to Georgia in the second round.

“We learned a lot playing in the tournament last year,” Bonvicini said. “We found that we can play under pressure and we can play with any team in the country.”

UCLA women back in tourney

UCLA’s women’s basketball team is headed for the NCAA tournament, where the men’s team is a fixture but the women haven’t been since 1992.

The last time Bruins coach Kathy Olivier participated in the tournament she was an assistant at Southern California, which won the national title her first season in 1984. The Trojans reached the title game in 1986, her final year.

UCLA (19-8) starts four sophomores, including Maylana Martin, who averages 19.1 points and 7.6 rebounds.

Martin is just the third Bruin to total 1,000 points after her sophomore season.

Same coach, new team

After 15 years of building Western Kentucky into a women’s basketball power, it only took one season for Paul Sanderford to introduce his new team, Nebraska, to the NCAA tournament.

The Cornhuskers (22-9) were seeded ninth in the East regional.

“I’m thrilled for the kids because they worked so hard. I think it’s a great step for this program,” Sanderford said.

Sanderford came to Nebraska last year, saddened to leave Western Kentucky but convinced national title dreams were more realistic at a school with a stronger conference and a broader financial base.

He inherited a team from former coach Angela Beck that had opened 16-1 last year but withered badly and missed the NCAAs.

“There were doubts,” Sanderford said. “But this team probably far exceeded any expectations I had. We got off to such a great start that our expectations changed right away. We just pushed harder.”

Sanderford led the Hilltoppers to a 16-12 record in NCAA tournament games, making three trips to the Final Four. Western Kentucky was the 1992 national runner-up.

Clemson gets no respect

One week after the Clemson women took a 31-point bruising at the hands of North Carolina in the ACC Tournament Final, the NCAA tournament selection committee added insult to injury.

Coach Jim Davis’ Tigers are seeded sixth in the Midwest Region and will face 10th-seeded Miami.

Davis said Clemson’s seeding is a little low for a team that finished second in the ACC, made it to the conference tournament finals and entered the same tournament a fifth seed last year.

Davis said Clemson for some reason isn’t getting much respect around the country.

“When the pairings were announced, obviously there was a hush over our team and that’s exactly what we talked about, a lack of respect,” Davis said. “We’re a little disappointed, we thought we would be a top-16 seed and get to host an opening round.

“I was a little disappointed in our lack of respect, but it’s also an opportunity.”

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: LOCALLY GROWN Area players in the NCAA women’s tournament: Angella Bieber (U-Hi) Montana Regan Fruen (Mead) Stanford Heather Owen(Moscow) Stanford Stacy Clinesmith (Mead) UCSB Crystal Lee (CV) Hawaii Kari Hutchinson (St. G) N. Dame Jennifer Williams (GP) N. Mex. Jodi Cory(Mead) New Mexico

This sidebar appeared with the story: LOCALLY GROWN Area players in the NCAA women’s tournament: Angella Bieber (U-Hi) Montana Regan Fruen (Mead) Stanford Heather Owen(Moscow) Stanford Stacy Clinesmith (Mead) UCSB Crystal Lee (CV) Hawaii Kari Hutchinson (St. G) N. Dame Jennifer Williams (GP) N. Mex. Jodi Cory(Mead) New Mexico

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