Husky Women Subdue Ducks -- Persistent Deden, Michelson Lead UW To Key Victory

EUGENE - Although no midcourt celebration broke out as it did a week earlier when the University of Washington women's basketball team beat Stanford, what the Huskies accomplished last night might have been as significant.

With 6 minutes 47 seconds to play against Oregon in hostile McArthur court, all that the Huskies had achieved this season was up for grabs with the score tied at 46-46.

At that point, Washington's No. 5 national ranking and its share of the Pac-10 Conference lead was in danger of being lost to the delight of most of the 2,407 fans eager to see an upset.

But, led by Karen Deden, who persevered offensively and survived defensively while saddled with four personal fouls in the final 5:32, the Huskies came through.

Deden broke the tie at 46 by hitting the second of two free throws to start the Huskies on a 16-6 run to the finish that produced a 62-52 victory.

``I think the game was a key point in our season,'' Deden said after she and center Amy Mickelson had finished scoring 21 points apiece to lead the Huskies. ``This was the road game that was going to be the toughest for us the rest of the way. Oregon is a good team and this is a hard place to play.''

While leading the team offensively, Deden and Mickelson also played key defensive roles. Deden fronted Oregon's 6-7 center, Stefanie Kasperski, and Mickelson often had to help from behind.

Kasperski scored 22 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. But, with the game on the line, Kasperski had little offensive help. She scored four of Oregon's last six points.

``I was pleased with the way we dug in defensively and with our shot selection,'' Husky Coach Chris Gobrecht said of the final minutes.

After Deden broke the tie with the free throw, Deden hit a putback laying and a 15-footer from the right wing to make it 51-46.

Kelly Blair hit a 17-footer at 4:38 to make it 51-48, but the Huskies went on an 8-2 run and it was all over. In the first half, the Ducks jumped out to an 8-2 lead over the cold-shooting Huskies, who made only one of their first five shots.

But, beginning with an 18-foot shot from the top of the key by Laurie Merlino, the Huskies generated a 10-2 streak en route to their first lead at 12-10.

Deden followed Merlino's basket by hitting a 12-footer from the side. Then, after Kasperski hit a 10-footer from the baseline, Amy Mickelson dropped in a pair of hook shots - one from the baseline, the other from just inside the free-throw line.

Then, after Mickelson missed a 12-footer, Traci Thirdgill ran across the key lane, rebounded the ball and shot it back up to put Washington ahead 12-10.

The Ducks, however, came up with a rally of their own and ran off five straight for a 17-12 lead with 7:14 to play in the first half.

The Huskies answered that with a six-point run - a 17-footer by Jocelyn McIntire and a pair of 10-foot jump hooks from the right side by Deden - in recapturing the lead at 18-17 with 5:24 to play.

After that, the teams exchanged the lead six times - with the last exchange produced by Mickelson, who hit a 12-foot hook to put the Huskies ahead at intermission 28-27.

By halftime, Washington had hit 40 percent of field-goal attempts (14 of 35) but had attempted (and missed) only one free throw. Despite the protests by Gobrecht, the Huskies had been charged with nine fouls in the first half; the Ducks with only two.

The Ducks, however, did not take advantage of the situation. They hit only 3 of 6 free throws.

The victory gave the Huskies a sweep of the season series with the Ducks. Washington beat Oregon 73-57 last month in Seattle.

The Huskies have five regular-season games remaining, including the next three at home - against Washington State Saturday night, Southern Cal March 1 and UCLA March 3. They will complete the campaign at Arizona State March 8 and at Arizona March 10.