HUSKIES LOSE: A shot here or there and Montlake would be celebrating an upset Friday night. Instead, Washington shot 27.8 percent from the field in the second half of an eventual 65-61 loss to No. 17 UCLA at Alaska Airlines Arena. The Huskies missed 10 consecutive FGs as the Bruins (18-4, 9-2 Pac-12) methodically stitched together an 11-0 run to take control of the game. It didn’t matter that it couldn’t hit a FG in the final four minutes of the game, Lemberger and Nyingifa combined for eight FTs — six in the final 33 seconds — to seal the win. Brewer led the Bruins with 20 points and 12 rebounds while Nyingifa added 15 points and 12 boards. UW’s Walton scored 14 of her final 18 points in the second half and Davis had 17 points. Washington (16-6, 8-6 Pac-12) hosts Southern California (8-14, 5-6) on Sunday. The Trojans lost to Washington State 57-54 on Friday, 57-54. As a side note, the Cougs (9-13, 5-6) are on a four-game win streak. UW’s six-game win streak was snapped and it suffered its second loss at home. But in terms of NCAA tournament outlook, the Huskies showed they can play but could still use a win against one of these quality teams to solidify the pitch. Its offense stunk, but UW did force 20 turnovers in the game and shot more than 50 points against a team that didn’t allow its past three opponents that luxury. “That was like a tournament-level game tonight,” McGuff said. “UCLA has a chance to make a really great run in March and could play on that second weekend. They have the size, athleticism and depth to be a tough out in the NCAA tournament…You can’t put everything into one game for us.”
O-FER: Williams was wide open under the hoop, but Davis didn’t spot her and until the UCLA defense also recovered on the botched assignment. Well covered, Williams missed two attempts under the hoop and UW is 0-for-7 from the field. Brewer is getting easy looks in the paint on the other end, scoring the past six points to help build a 48-47 Bruins lead. There’s 10:58 remaining in the game. I’m out to write the newspaper version of the the story.
FOUL TROUBLE: G Mariah Williams is one of my favorite players to watch in the Pac-12 and I’m not seeing much of her tonight due to foul trouble. She’s back on the bench with four. two consecutive buckets by teammate Brewer have closed the gap to 47-46 UW. There’s 13:25 on the clock.
DAWG PACK: Fans are living and dying with every play, signifying the importance of the game. Right now they’re booing at the officials for an obvious tipped ball out of bounds by UCLA that was instead called the visitor’s way. There’s a season-high 3,204 fans in attendance. A Walton three-pointer brought them to their feet. It’s47-42 UW with 14:17 on the clock.
KING ME: Two more three-pointers, this time by Kingma, have the Huskies back up 44-40. The play totally nullified a sweet interior pass to Dixon from Brewer on the other end. Close promptly called a timeout, two guess on what was discussed. There’s 17:23 left.
TIME: Walton and Davis started the second half with three-pointers but Brewer’s layins and a three-pointer by Lemberger tied the game, again, at 38 points apiece. Wetmore was also called for her third foul in the midst of the series of play. McGuff called a time out. There’s 18:06 remaining in the game.
THE BREAK: Davis was fouled with five seconds remaining in the half, making one of the ensuing free throws to help UW take a 32-31 lead in the break. The Huskies also led at the break in the first meeting this season, 34-33. It’s UW’s first lead of the game. There have been five ties so far. Both teams are playing really well defensively, forcing shot-clock violations and forcing turnovers. It’s the underclassmen that’s helping Washington stay in the game. Corral is having a steady game off the bench, showing no fear on a fast break layup and deep three-pointer. She has five points and two rebounds. Davis leads the team with 12 points. Williams has eight boards and six points. When the Bruins can get the ball inside, it’s almost guaranteed the bucket so far. UCLA is outscoring the Huskies 12-6 in the paint. Nyingifa leads UCLA with nine points and five rebounds. Halftime was a boring bungee game. At least the musical selection is on point.
STEP BACK: OK, so Corral can’t hit her FTs, but she can grab her own rebound and step back for a signature three-pointer. She tied the game at 28 points apiece with 2:36 left. Close called a quick TO to discuss. But on the possession out of the break, UW forced a shot-clock violation.
FOUL TROUBLE: Close pulled jitterbug Mariah Williams from the starting lineup, figuring she change the pace with her defensive pressure and speed off the bench. That plan has backfired, however. The senior guard was called for her third foul and will sit until the second half. Walker juked freshman G Heather Corral for a jumper and the Bruins are up 25-21 with 6:11 left.
NICE D: UW is keeping up with UCLA in defensive effort. Trapping the Bruins and clogging passing sight-lines has forced seven turnovers. UW only has four. But the Bruins are still up, 21-19 with 7:49 left in the half.
THREE BALL: Close didn’t want to trade UW threes with UCLA twos, but that’s what’s happening. Davis nailed an awkward, deep three-pointer with 10:56 remaining in the half to tie the score at 17 points apiece. UW is the best three-point shooting team in the Pac-12, making 8.4 a game. The team is 3-for-6 from that range tonight.
UPDATE: Fortier has her left arm in a sling from an injury suffered in practice. More to come. UW is down 17-14 with 12:04 on the clock.
TAGGED: Walton was called for two fouls early, one on a drive to the hoop. A no-call on Davis helped get the crowd going, the fire fanned by a UW defensive stop and Kingma three-pointer with 15:55 to go in the half. UCLA called time and is up 9-8. CORRECTION: Williams was called for a foul, so Walton doesn’t need to play it as safe early.
ONE LESS: Walk-on G Kassia Fortier is in dress clothes on the bench. No word, yet, on the reasoning. UW is down to a nine-player rotation, G Debroah Meeks not playing much since her return from a knee injury. What else is new? Meanwhile on the court, the officials had to do a retake on the center jump and stop the game because of an apparent clock malfunction. UCLA up 7-5 with 17:50 left in the opening half.
No. 17 UCLA (17-4, 8-2 Pac-12) is in town for its second matchup of the season against Washington (16-5, 8-2). Unlike the first, a UW 85-68 loss in its second game of the Pac-12 season, this game has the potential to be a season, if not program changer. The Huskies are on a six-game win streak and looking like a NCAA worthy tournament team – sans that elusive signature win.
The Bruins, which are on a four-game win streak, are the Huskies’ first stab at getting one. UW redshirt senior G Kristi Kingma enjoyed the week revealing in the position because she’s seasoned enough to keep the hype in check. In reality it’s another significant conference game UW could very win because it’s familiar with the players and style despite the Bruins also meshing new players and coaches together the past two seasons.
“This game has the potential for us to blow it up in our minds – ‘We need to beat them in order for us to be successful,’” Kingma said Tuesday. “When you look back on this game at the end of the year, yeah it could be a huge turning point, but leading up to the game you can’t think that. We’re tied with them for third and we need to look at it as separating ourselves from them and the rest of the Pac.”
UW and UCLA are tied for third in the Pac-12 and even a Washington loss would drop the season into a tailspin. No. 21 Colorado is already off in the distance with a 16-5, 5-5 record for fourth place in Pac-12 standings. What’s more important for both teams is getting back on track.
What? Yeah, getting back on track. UW coach Kevin McGuff was crabby during halftime of both the Arizona and Arizona State road wins last week because he didn’t think the team was playing to its full potential.
“I let them know both halftimes that we weren’t playing as well as we should have,” he said. “We had a real sense of urgency against the Oregon schools (at home in January), especially without Jaz (Davis). I thought that was a little bit down at the Arizona schools.”
UCLA coach Cori Close has been on her team about its defensive effort. The Bruins are getting the point, limiting its past three opponents to 50 points or fewer while senior wing Markel Walker acts as the instigator, ranking 22nd in the nation in steals (3.1).
“If they’re able to make threes and drive to the paint, they’re going to be pretty hard to stop,” Close said. “But I think we’re playing better defense than we were at that time (January). We’re playing at a higher level of intensity more consistently. But this game is what a big game in a major BCS conference should be like, right? A war.”
Under the bright lights of Alaska Arlines Arena, will it be showtime for UCLA? Or will UW show its worthy of its own billing?
Lets get started with your starting lineups:
F Jasmine Dixon
F Atonye Nyingifa
C Alyssia Brewer
G Thea Lemberger
G Markel Walker
F Kristi Kingma
F Aminah Williams
C Talia Walton
G Jazmine Davis
G Mercedes Wetmore
Tonight’s officials are Marianne Karp, Michelle Russi and Brian Woods.