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Originally published February 8, 2014 at 4:54 PM | Page modified February 8, 2014 at 9:20 PM

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UW’s Talia Walton looks forward to her first game vs. Stanford

UW completes round one against the Bay Area schools with a matinee matchup against No. 3 Stanford at Alaska Airlines Arena on Sunday. The Huskies (12-10, 5-6 Pac-12) haven’t defeated the Cardinal since 2005.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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The question was innocuous.

“How different does Washington seem from past matchups against Stanford?” Talia Walton was asked following Washington’s 70-65 loss to No. 23 California Friday.

UW completes round one against the Bay Area schools with a matinee matchup against No. 3 Stanford at Alaska Airlines Arena on Sunday. The Huskies (12-10, 5-6 Pac-12) haven’t defeated the Cardinal since 2005.

“As long as I’ve been here, this will be my first time playing them, disregarding last year,” responded Walton, a redshirt sophomore. The missed opportunity to play against Stanford is linked to painful memories for Walton.

She redshirted her freshman season due to needing knee surgery. Walton, a 6-foot-2 versatile post, was told after the procedure she’ll have chronic knee pain her entire career and will simply have to manage the reality.

Her college debut last season was blemished by a one-game suspension for the Stanford game. Walton learned weeks earlier her 2-year-old nephew died of heart failure. She continued to play, attending his funeral in between a road trip to play the mountain schools.

A missed curfew unrelated to coping with the death forced former UW coach Kevin McGuff to suspend Jazmine Davis, former guard Debra Meeks and Walton when the team returned home.

“We’re still trying to establish the culture that I want that will lead to more winning in the future,” said McGuff, then in his second season, of having to discipline Walton during a difficult time.

Without the three players, UW lost 71-36 at home to Stanford.

Nearing the Feb. 16 anniversary date of her nephew’s death, Walton will finally play the team she has envisioned scoring against since committing to UW in October 2010. And it’ll be on a big stage, too, the matchup airing on ESPNU at 12:30 p.m.

Walton is expected to start in the post, teaming with Aminah Williams (6 feet) to defend Stanford All-American Chiney Ogwumike, a 6-4 forward who averages 27.4 points and 12.2 rebounds.

By comparison, Walton is breaking through a shooting slump and is averaging 13.3 points and 7.0 rebounds in her past three games. She had only scored in double digits once in her previous eight games.

Walton finished with 19 points and nine rebounds with no turnovers in the five-point loss against Cal on Friday.

“We had a lot of fight and Talia played great,” senior guard Mercedes Wetmore said of the loss against Cal.

Despite the loss, the Bears primer should help in preparing for the Cardinal (22-1, 11-0).

Stanford has a 62-game win streak against conference opponents on the road.

“I’m excited to play and see what it’s like being out there with the No. 3 team in the country,” Walton said.

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067

or jevans@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @JaydaEvans



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