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Originally published November 8, 2012 at 8:04 PM | Page modified November 9, 2012 at 7:17 PM

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Kristi Kingma returns in Huskies' season opener

The Washington women open the season against Saint Mary's on Friday. They'll have senior guard Kristi Kingma back on the court. Kingma, the Huskies' leading scorer as a junior, missed all of last season after suffering a knee injury.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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It's natural for Jazmine Davis to carry a smile through the day.

But lately at practice the Washington point guard's dimpled grin is exaggerated.

"I was super excited to have Kristi (Kingma) back," said Davis, a sophomore. "You can just see it when we're practicing, all of the shooters that we have, and Kristi is known for busting that shot and scoring points. I just smile in practice every play because I know she's there and she's going to make that (shot)."

The Huskies open their second season under coach Kevin McGuff on Friday with the return of Kingma. The senior guard missed last season due to a knee injury suffered during UW's tour through the Netherlands in August 2011.

In many ways, slipping on the purple-trimmed uniform for the matchup at 7 p.m. against Saint Mary's will be more thrilling for Kingma than the first time she stepped onto the Alaska Airlines Arena court in 2008.

Kingma, a 5-foot-11 guard, was the Huskies' leading scorer as a junior (15.6). The Mill Creek native also set the school's season made three-pointers record (79) and was a 2011 All-Pac-12 first-teamer.

"I've dreamed about this day since Sept. 10, when I had surgery," Kingma said following a 92-46 exhibition win against Concordia last week. She scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half, including all three of her three-pointers.

"The first few practices I've been rusty. I knew (coming in) I wasn't going to be in the same form that I was in back before I tore my ACL," she said. "The offense is designed to shoot a lot of threes. I have to have a better mentality. ... I kind of got down when I missed some shots and was not really wanting to shoot, but Jaz is going to beat a lot of players."

The Huskies will debut a different look due to lack of size inside. Davis is built to run and with scorers like Kingma, and junior Mercedes Wetmore to collect assists, UW could easily improve its 63.3 scoring average from last season.

The Gaels were picked to finish third in the West Coast Conference. Saint Mary's was 22-11 last season, losing in the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament. The Huskies experienced their first 20-win season in a decade and advanced to the WNIT quarterfinals.

Saint Mary's features guard Jackie Nared, who averaged 13 points and 7.5 rebounds last season. Her father, Greg, was an assistant coach at Washington under former coach Tia Jackson.

"Defensively, we need a lot of work," McGuff said of the focus before the season-opener. "We're not a big team, so we're going to have to be good as a team in rebounding."

Kingma's return helps. After her first spill in practice, she was confident she could return to be the dogged defender she was before her injury. She mentioned the knee brace is the only annoyance.

"I'm happy for Kristi to be out there on the floor and happy for us," McGuff said. "My only message to her was that I'd only be mad if she passes up a good shot."

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

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