HUSKIES WIN: Walton nailed an open three-pointer with 2:40 remaining in the game to give UW a 72-67 lead. It was enough to guard against any ASU surge, winning 77-74 before 2,341 fans. But it wasn’t without nailbiting moments. The Sun Devils (8-5, 0-1 Pac-12) missed three three-pointers in the final 44 seconds to nix opportunities to win. Although Blackwell did hit one at the buzzer that was ultimately meaningless but still a headshaker because she was well defended. She finished with an impressive 29 points on 12 of 17 shooting. ASU’s normal star, Fulcher, had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Walton and Williams provided the needed 1-2 punch inside the paint. Walton had a team-high 19 points with five blocks and three steals. Williams finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Davis (17) and Kingma (14) also finished scoring in double figures. “I like Blackwell a lot,” McGuff said. “Watching the film, I thought she’s really talented. I didn’t anticipate her scoring 29, but I thought she could be really effective.” It’s Washington’s first Pac-12 opening win since it defeated Washington State in the 2008-09 season. The team has talked a lot about getting out to a solid start in conference play and the goal showed on Friday — although in spurts. Positives were UW (9-3, 1-0) totaling 14 steals and six blocks. Washington used the defense to score 21 points off 24 ASU turnovers. But the Sun Devils got the Huskies on the boards (52-30) and dominated the paint, scoring 52 points to the Huskies’ 36 inside. “At the end of the day I felt that we played hard enough down the stretch to make it tough on them around the basket,” McGuff said. “This is a really good win for us.” UW switches from a grinding inside game to face a three-point happy team in Arizona (9-3, 1-0) on Sunday. UA defeated WSU 71-65 in the teams’ conference opener at Beasley Coliseum on Friday.
BREAK TIME: I’m out to write the newspaper version. It’s 58-57 UW with 8:14 on the clock. Kingma has just checked back into the game after probably her first extend in-game break of the season. Previously Washington was so wounded, it barely had subs.
UNLEASHED: Freshman Heather Corral, making her college home debut, flung a long three-pointer into the hoop to give the Huskies a tight 56-54 lead with 9:25 remaining. The play was setup by a hustle steal from Wetmore. The crowd gave the Huskies a standing ovation as it entered a timeout.
BET ON BLACK: Blackwell has made three consecutive shots to put ASU back ahead 52-48. Davis stopped the surge with a three-point play and Washington is down 52-51 with 10:28 on the clock. Blackwell has a game-high 18 points off the bench.
TIE GAME: Williams made a tough jumper and later drew a foul, making the ensuing FTs, to help UW tie the score at 46 points apiece with 12:50 left in the game. Washington was leaving the paint open for Arizona State, but has since paid more attention to its inside defense.
ASU LEADS: The Sun Devils built a 42-38 lead after a shot by F Haley Videckis under the basket. The Huskies have been sloppy with the ball in the second half., allowing a 10-2 ASU run. There’s 14:30 on the clock.
SCOREBOARD: It was competitive, but No. 7 Cal defeated Utah 55-50 in the teams’ conference opener in Salt Lake. It’ll be interesting to see if voters in the national polls drop the Bears (11-1) because of the close game or respect Utah (9-3) and the Pac-12’s apparent improvement this season. No. 4 Stanford (11-1) is leading undefeated Colorado 31-14 at the break. The No. 20 Buffs (11-0) may drop out of the polls due to the loss, but the Cards are clearly unleashing after an embarrassing 61-35 loss to No. 1 Connecticut (11-0) at home to end nonconference play. No. 16 UCLA (9-2) leads Oregon 50-32 on the road. The Ducks were 2-10 in nonconference play.
POWER PLAY: Sun Devils reserve Jada Blackwell nailed two turnaround jumpers and blocked a Davis shot to help ASU close within 36-32 at the break. UW is tipping a lot of passes and shooting well at 41.2 percent. It’s shooting 55.6 from three-point range. You could say the offense is merely an extension of the UC Davis 81-56 win where UW scored 54 points in the second half. UW is still getting outrebounded (27-17) and outscored in the paint (24-16). The Huskies have used eight steals and four blocks to catch the Sun Devils’ offense off-guard. Kingma leads with 12 points, making 4 of 5 three-pointers. Walton has nine points and four boards. ASU is lead by Blackwell’s 12 points.
NEW REFS: Literally, these are new officials to me and they’re calling the game like it. I don’t like to comment on refs because normally the calls balance each other out. This crew is allowing a lot of physical play, especially under the basket. Wouldn’t be that bad if there weren’t so many obvious over-the-back violations. Kingma nailed her third three-pointer of the game to give UW a 32-26 lead. It’s a 6-0 run for the Huskies, prompting Turner Thorne to call time before the crowd really erupts. Kingma leads with 12 points and Williams has six boards. Thomas leads the Sun Devils with seven points.
BOARD GAME: The Huskies aren’t perfect from the field so it’s slightly surprising it has a 18-17 lead despite being outrebounded 13-7. UW has giving up eight offensive boards to ASU. The slight difference is the Sun Devils shooting 38.9 percent from the field with 11:12 on the clock.
SPOTTED: Brock Huard, the former UW football star and current radio personality, is among the crowd at Alaska Airlines Arena. Figures aren’t in, yet, but it appears to be the best draw Washington has had so far this season. That’s a good thing because I doubt many will return Sunday afternoon during the Seahawks’ playoff opener. UW and ASU are tied at 15 points apiece with 11:58 remaining.
HIT ME: So, that stuff I said about Kingma? She made it a moot point with a three-pointer at the top of the key for UW’s first FG attempt of the game. Davis had a smooth, but quick, pass inside to Williams for a layin and Wetmore scored on an awkward penetrating layin to make the score 7-4 with 15:58 remaining in the opening half.
It’s finally here, the Pac-12’s league-wide opening night. It’s been an anticipated event after a solid offseason by most of the teams and return of healthy players and one coach in Arizona State’s Charli Turner Thorne. She took a sabbatical last year. Her Sun Devils (8-4) are facing a healthy Washington (8-3) at Alaska Airlines Arena on Friday.
UW’s biggest return from last season is redshirt senior G Kristi Kingma. She suffered a torn right ACL last year and is back, serving as a needed hustle player during the Huskies’ nonconference schedule to get teammates going in games. Kingma, an all-conference player as a junior, is suffering offensively (29.7 percent) but second-year coach Kevin McGuff isn’t fazed.
“Her leadership has been terrific,” he said. “And the good news is, as we head to Pac-12 play, there’s a higher level she can reach.”
ASU swept UW last season and has won 15 of the past 16 matchups. They’ve all been defensive battles, a staple for the Sun Devils. Turner Thorne continues to use a deep bench with five in, five out, hockey-type substitutions.
Washington’s troubles in nonconference play has been rebounding and slow starts. They’ll need to focus on correcting both to win its opener.
Let’s get it started with your lineups:
F Micaela Pickens
F Janae Flucher
C Joy Burke
G Adrianne Thomas
G Promise Amukamara
F Kristi Kingma
F Aminah Williams
C Talia Walton
G Jazmine Davis
G Mercedes Wetmore
Tonight’s officials are Charles Gonzales, Michol Murray, and Cheryl Flores.