Katie Collier finally felt normal.
A 6-foot-3 post, Collier played in her first basketball game Thursday since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament, the medial collateral ligament and the meniscus in her right knee in July 2012.
Actually, Washington’s women’s basketball exhibition against Concordia was Collier’s first game where she felt 100 percent healthy since being found to have acute promyelocytic leukemia in September 2011 – her senior year at Seattle Christian High.
“It felt like last year didn’t even happen, like this is where I’m supposed to be,” said Collier, who finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds in UW’s 87-40 win at Alaska Airlines Arena.
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“Even if I messed up, which happened a lot with myself, (I told myself), ‘I’m out here playing basketball and I love it,’” said Collier, a redshirt freshman.
The two-year fight to return showed in a few missed layins. Overall, Collier played like a touted McDonald’s All-American talent. She worked with junior forward Aminah Williams inside to gobble up rebounds to keep Concordia from finding a rhythm.
“Katie, I teared up a little bit just to see her in the starting lineup,” UW coach Mike Neighbors said.
Washington’s other All-American, point guard Kelsey Plum, took care of the dazzling offensive show to finish with a game-high 32 points, making 6-of-10 three-pointers. Williams’ 19 rebounds helped UW outrebound undersized Concordia 62-36 in the game.
The Huskies quickly built a 19-2 lead and closed the game on a 20-2 run. Yet, the new NCAA defensive rules affected lineups. Neighbors blamed himself, using the live game to test the new foul rules instead of using officials in practice.
“I was anxious to see if we could switch in the middle of the game,” he said. “We didn’t foul as much in the second half and our technique was way better. And it was good to have size out there. It’s the first time in a couple of years we’ve had somebody we could throw it in there to and is expected to make a post move.”
Collier was slated to be a reserve behind Williams and redshirt sophomore Talia Walton. Freshman post Chantel Osahor was predicted to add depth in the post. The lineup changed after Walton fell in practice, breaking a bone in her right hand. Osahor stumbled outside of practice, suffering a right shoulder injury.
Walton, who averaged 13.6 points last season, underwent surgery on Thursday to place screws in her hand. She’s listed as day-to-day but it’s doubtful she plays UW’s nonconference opener at Saint Mary’s on Nov. 8.