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UW women host Montana, Boise State in first Husky Classic in nine years

The two-day, four-team tournament at Alaska Airlines Arena returns from a nine-year hiatus with a matchup between Washington (6-3) and Montana (4-3).

After a nine-year hiatus, the Husky Classic is back.

“It’s an important part of the tradition here for women’s basketball,” Washington women’s basketball coach Jody Wynn said. “Even though I’m not from here and I didn’t participate in it, I know a lot about it. It used to be sponsored by The Seattle Times. It was a really big deal.

“They showcased all four teams and the community came out and not only supported the UW, but they supported the other games that were going on. So it’s great to bring the Husky Classic back to the UW.”

The two-day, four-team tournament at Alaska Airlines Arena begins at 1 p.m. Saturday with a matchup between Washington (6-3) and Montana (4-3), followed by Boise State (6-2) playing St. Francis (2-6) at 4 p.m.

The winners advance to Sunday’s 4 p.m. championship that precedes a 1 p.m. consolation game.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Husky Classic, which was a staple of the UW women’s basketball schedule from 1986 through 2009.

The Huskies posted a 39-9 all-time tournament record while capturing 14 of the 22 championships. (There was not a tournament winner in 2009.)

“I’m not sure why it went away,” Wynn said. “Maybe other staffs had other priorities. … But each and every year we want to bring really good teams that the community can support. Seattle is such a basketball savvy community and they love women’s basketball here so it’s great to have this here.

“As long as we’re here, we’re planning on having it every year.”

Through the years, 56 teams have participated, including past winners Alabama, Clemson, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana Tech, Long Beach State, Oklahoma State, Sacramento State and Santa Clara.

At the peak of its popularity, the Husky Classic drew nearly 10,000 fans over two days in 1994 when Washington lost 55-51 to Colorado in the finals.

And in 2003, more than 8,000 spectators turned out to watch Giuliana Mendiola, a three-time tournament MVP, lead UW to an 89-65 win over Oklahoma State in the championship game.

Other past UW MVP winners include: Amber Hall (1997), Jamie Redd (1997), Andrea Plouffe (2005), Breanne Watson (2006) and Sami Whitcomb (2007).

“It’s an awesome tournament,” said UW assistant Michelle Augustavo, who was named to the Husky Classic all-tournament team in 2008. “Who doesn’t want to come to Seattle around the holidays to play against some really good competition?

“Historically we had some really good teams come out. It’s been really competitive. I’m just happy that it’s back.”

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