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Originally published Saturday, April 19, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Women's basketball | Kali Bennett 4th to leave Huskies

Another player has left the Washington women's basketball program. Kali Bennett, a 6-foot-5 freshman, becomes the fourth player from the...

Seattle Times staff columnist

Another player has left the Washington women's basketball program.

Kali Bennett, a 6-foot-5 freshman, becomes the fourth player from the six-member 2007 recruiting class to leave first-year coach Tia Jackson's program. She informed Jackson of her decision in a meeting on Thursday.

Candice Nichols left at the start of the regular season. Late in the season, Jess McCormack returned to New Zealand and after leading the team in scoring during her freshman year, Katelan Redmon transferred to Gonzaga.

All four players were recruited by former coach June Daugherty, now at WSU.

But at the end of the 2006-07 season, former athletic director Todd Turner didn't renew Daugherty's contract.

"Kali chose the UW over other schools because of June Daugherty," said Chris Bennett, Kali's mother, who added that her daughter had been recruited by "hundreds of schools."

"We hoped that coach Tia Jackson would be a positive coach, but unfortunately her style has been entirely different from that of June's," she said. "We support Kali's decision to leave the program because we have seen first-hand the pain it has caused her."

She said her daughter wants to transfer to Washington State.

Bennett, from Ventura, Calif., averaged 4.9 points and 3 rebounds in 30 games. She led the team in three-point shooting percentage (38.5) and tied for the team lead in blocked shots (15). Her brother Zack is a sophomore at Washington and, during his freshman year, was a member of the male team that practiced against the women.

"We have great respect for the University of Washington as a great academic institution," Chris Bennett said. "We love the fans, the players and the families. These are the fond memories we will hold on to."

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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