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Rogers returning to Pauley as Huskies take on UCLA

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Senior Christina Rozier loses the ball in the second half against Stanford on Friday.

When the Washington women’s basketball team takes the floor tonight, there will be one player who has had a little more experience than any other Husky at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.

Redshirt sophomore Regina Rogers transferred to the UW last year after playing for the Bruins during her 2007-08 freshman season. As a Bruin, Rogers was a Pac-10 All-Freshman Honorable Mention and played in all 31 games.

Tonight, she’ll face her former team at Pauley Pavilion for the first time. When UCLA visited Seattle one month ago, Rogers had a less-than-stellar performance and played just 10 minutes. Whether it was foul trouble or a flurry of emotions, head coach Tia Jackson decided not to use her 6-foot-3 center much during the loss.

“I feel like I didn’t play my game,” Rogers said. “Maybe because I was too excited to play.”

Now, Rogers has put that disappointing performance past her. She feels more prepared for tonight’s return to Pauley and wants to contribute more than she did last month.

“I feel like since I’ve already played against them and it’s the second half [of the season], I’ll be more prepared,” the sophomore said.

As for the UCLA crowd, Rogers isn’t too worried about boos or jeers she might hear from the Bruin faithful. Her experiences in high school have helped her get used to tough road environments, she said.

Also helping her mental game has been her father, who was a first-round draft pick of the NFL’s Detroit Lions.

“[After] talking to my dad and my uncle, they just told me to keep my head up,” Rogers explained. “Now, I’m beginning to block those things out.

She’ll also be facing her childhood best friend and high-school teammate Christina Nzekwe for the second time ever. The two said a few words to each other after the first matchup, but since then, they haven’t talked.

While it may seem like Rogers has a lot to deal with when she steps on the floor tonight, she’s not concerned that it will affect her play.

“I think it’s going to be weird going back, [but] I’m not really worried about playing there,” she said. “I’ve [already] played there for a year.”

The struggling Huskies, who are currently on a four-game losing streak, are in dire need of a win. If their performance during most of the game against the Bruins last month in Seattle is an indication of how they’ll play tonight, they should be in good shape.

In the Jan. 23 home loss, the UW played good basketball and led for most of the time, only to be upended in the last few minutes by the Bruins.

The same thing happened two days before against USC. The Trojans, thanks mostly to Ashley Corral, broke open a close game in the last five minutes.

The Huskies, who have just five games left, will face USC Saturday night to complete their last road trip of the season. Riding a four-game losing streak, the Huskies see the next few games as key to turning things around before it’s too late.

“The next stretch of games here are pretty important,” Jackson said. “We are really just starting to figure out how to hammer down games. I think we’ve been playing some really good basketball, and we’ve got a really good challenge with the UCLA and USC teams.”

Reach Sports Editor Taylor Soper at sports@dailyuw.com.

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