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Originally published Friday, December 31, 2010 at 5:22 PM

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Washington women start strong, but fall to No. 8 UCLA, 60-48

Mackenzie Argens scored 18 points and had 11 rebounds for Washington, but No. 8 UCLA won a Pac-10 women's game Friday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Mackenzie Argens said her team needed to get tougher, and the junior provided the example in Washington's Pac-10 opener on Friday.

Argens dominated No. 8 UCLA's youthful interior in helping the Huskies be competitive, but the Bruins' depth and defense in the second half were enough for a 60-48 win in a women's basketball game at Edmundson Pavilion.

The Huskies hope they can learn from the loss.

"We showed some toughness," Washington guard Kristi Kingma said. "Mackenzie played one of the best games I've seen her play. At the end of the game, Charmaine (Barlow) and I looked at each other and we were playing with three freshmen and they weren't backing down. We'd love to win that game, but it was a good steppingstone."

Junior Rebekah Gardner scored 10 of her 15 points in the second half to lead the Bruins (11-1, 1-0 Pac-10). Her team is off to its best start since the 1980-81 season and has won seven of the past eight games against Washington (5-5, 0-1).

Argens, 6 feet 3, led the Huskies with a season-high 18 points and 11 rebounds for her first double-double of the year. The fiery play was prompted by Washington being embarrassed in a 60-27 loss to Georgia Tech on Dec. 23 as Washington shot 25 percent from the field and had 22 turnovers. Argens fouled out, finishing with zero points and one rebound against a muscular Yellow Jackets team.

The turnaround was dramatic.

Washington shot 62.5 percent in the opening half to take a 29-26 lead into the break. Argens scored her team's final six points in the half and the first bucket after the break.

"The guards, they were getting me and Marjorie (Heard) the ball," said Argens of what worked in the opening half. "I don't know how some of those passes got through, but all of the guards, I give them the props."

UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell played different combinations to get her team going offensively after halftime, and the Bruins cut their turnovers down from 10 to four.

Leading 43-42 with 7:35 remaining, the Bruins went on a 13-4 run to build a 56-46 advantage. Gardner made a three-pointer and a pair of free throws during the stretch, and teammates Jasmine Dixon and Markel Walker muffled Argens in the second half.

"We know when it's time to handle business, we all come together and get the job done," Gardner said.

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Argens' play was needed because the Huskies still lack depth in the post and need options to counter opponents focusing on Kingma, the team's leading scorer. The junior guard was again smothered, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds.

"Our kids have a lot to be proud of going against this team," Washington coach Tia Jackson said. "We just need some more bodies."

Washington center Regina Rogers returned to practice this week, but was only able to participate in half-court drills and remains out with a hamstring injury. Forward Mollie Williams missed her first game of the season because of a concussion suffered in the Georgia Tech loss. She's listed as day-to-day.

Huskies freshman guard Mercedes Wetmore returned after missing two games with an undisclosed medical condition. She played 24 minutes, finishing with two points and six turnovers.

Washington continues conference play against USC on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Edmundson Pavilion.

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or jevans@seattletimes.com

UCLA (11-1, 1-0 Pac-10)
min fgm-a ftm-a or-t a pf pts
Nyingifa 25 1-5 0-0 3-4 0 1 2
Walker 25 3-7 3-5 1-5 3 3 9
Dixon 25 4-9 1-3 0-0 1 3 9
Morris 28 1-7 2-2 0-0 1 1 4
Campbell 30 3-8 3-4 1-3 4 4 9
Nzekwe 9 0-1 0-0 2-3 1 1 0
Williams 20 1-3 2-4 2-2 2 1 4
Costa 12 4-5 0-1 2-2 0 2 8
Gardner 26 4-8 4-4 2-3 0 2 15
200 21-53 15-23 15-29 12 18 60
Percentages: FG .396, FT .652. Three-point goals: 3-7, (Morris 0-1, Campbell 0-1, Gardner 3-5). Team rebounds: 7. Blocked shots: 1, (Gardner). Turnovers: 14, (Nyingifa, Walker, Dixon 4, Campbell 2, Nzekwe, Williams 3, Costa, Gardner). Steals: 12, (Nyingifa, Dixon 4, Campbell, Williams 2, Gardner 4).
WASHINGTON (5-5, 0-1)
min fgm-a ftm-a or-t a pf pts
Barlow 38 1-6 2-4 3-5 4 1 4
Heard 24 2-2 0-0 0-2 0 5 4
Argens 38 8-10 2-2 3-11 1 5 18
Kingma 39 3-8 4-6 3-7 1 4 12
Morton 25 1-4 2-2 0-2 4 5 5
Wetmore 24 1-4 0-1 1-1 3 0 2
Moore 11 0-3 3-4 0-2 0 0 3
Fortier 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
200 16-37 13-19 10-34 13 20 48
Percentages: FG .432, FT .684. Three-point goals: 3-8, (Kingma 2-4, Morton 1-2, Wetmore 0-1, Moore 0-1). Team rebounds: 4. Blocked shots: 3, (Heard, Argens, Morton). Turnovers: 25, (Barlow 3, Heard 5, Argens 2, Kingma, Morton 5, Wetmore 6). Steals: 7, (Barlow, Heard 2, Argens 2, Morton, Wetmore).
UCLA 26 34 60
Washington 29 19 48

Attendance: 1,783. Officials: Kent Johnson, Mary Whatford, Karen Lasuik. Technical fouls: UCLA-None. Washington-None.

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