A Washington women's basketball season teetering on the brink and in desperate need of something good to happen finally got it last night.
The Washington women’s basketball team left Edmundson Pavilion bloodied last night — but, for one of the rare times recently, not beaten.
UW starting point guard Emily Florence missed the last two minutes of the game after being hit in the nose by an Arizona State player’s elbow, leaving a trail of red behind as she walked to the bench. Florence said she is fine, but the play seemed indicative of the game’s intensity — and the cost the Huskies were willing to bear to get a win.
“It was kind of just, ‘Who could survive it?” said UW coach June Daugherty after Washington’s 63-55 upset of the No. 21 Sun Devils in front of 3,207. “Fortunately we were able to get the W.”
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Indeed, this seemed a game that was all but a must-win if the Huskies are to avoid only the second losing season in school history.
Washington (5-7 overall, 1-1 Pac-10 play) came in having lost three in a row overall and six of seven. A four-game losing streak would have been UW’s longest since the 1999-2000 season when the Huskies finished with their only losing record ever at 8-22, and would have been a particularly hard way to enter a stretch of five of seven on the road that starts Sunday at Cal.
“The biggest thing is that we haven’t completely given up,” said guard Kayla Burt. “With each loss we’ve taken something positive from it and we haven’t lost confidence.”
That includes Burt, who admittedly turned in one of the worst performances of her career in Monday night’s 67-63 loss to Arizona, being held without a point and playing just 11 minutes after getting in early foul trouble.
“She felt like she might have let the team down, which was not the case,” said Daugherty of Burt, who is UW’s leading scorer at just under 10 points per game. “But one of the things that was mentioned to her was just relax and go in there and get what you can get. Everybody knows that Kayla can penetrate with the basketball with the best of them.”
And penetrating was the plan from the start last night against an aggressive ASU defense. Burt was credited with just four field goal attempts, making one, but worked her way to the free throw line a game-high 12 times, making 10, to finish with a team-high 12 points, 10 in the second half.
“In the Arizona game, I wasn’t being myself,” Burt said. “I got two quick fouls and got into a shell a little bit. But the biggest thing was not letting that slow me down and getting back up.”
Burt’s aggressive play typified a UW offensive attack that often left ASU little choice but to foul. UW shot 34 free throws to 15 for ASU, making 25 to just seven for the Sun Devils.
“That was by design,” Daugherty said. “We feel like we have kids who can handle the basketball and if they have a seam, they’re supposed to go and they were able to do that.”
Amazingly, UW didn’t make a 3-pointer — it was the first time in Daughtery’s eight-plus years as coach the Huskies won a game without making a trey — and again shot under 40 percent from the field, something it has done in all 12 games this season.
UW led 25-22 at halftime after holding ASU to just one field goal in the final 9:58 of the first half. A 9-0 ASU run put the Sun Devils ahead 31-27 early in the second half, but the Huskies came right back with a 20-10 run of their own to take the lead for good.
ASU never got closer than four in the last 10 minutes of the game.
Sun Devil coach Charli Turner-Thorne said she had little explanation for her team’s sloppy play — which included 27 turnovers and 37 percent shooting from the field.
But then ASU, which has already beaten Uconn and Georgia, has historically struggled in Seattle, not beating the Huskies here since the 1995-96 season, the last for coach Chris Gobrecht. Only Washington State has a greater streak of futility in Seattle against the Huskies.
Asked if it was a jinx, Turner-Throne said no, then pointed out that ASU will welcome two more players from the state of Washington to its roster next season — including center Kirsten Thompson of Monroe. That means next year’s Sun Devils will have four Washington natives on its roster.
“We’ll have a whole new crop coming in next year and a lot of them are from here,” Turner-Thorne said. “I think they will be getting over that hump just fine if I had to say.”
|ARIZONA STATE 9-3, 1-1|
Percentages: FG .371, FT .467. Three-point goals: 2-11, (Westerberg 1-2, Denson 0-1, Loney 1-6, Pariseau 0-2). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 1, (Johnson). Turnovers: 27, (Westerberg 4, Denson 3, Kovesdy 4, Loney 4, Buckner 4, Pariseau, Stagg 4, Godette, Johnson, Thigpin). Steals: 16, (Westerberg 3, Kovesdy 3, Buckner 5, Pariseau, Stagg 2, Godette, Boardman).
|WASHINGTON 5-7, 1-1|
Percentages: FG .396, FT .735. Three-point goals: 0-7, (Florence 0-3, Burt 0-2, O’Neill 0-2). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 5, (O’Hara, Burt, O’Neill, Bell, Craddock). Turnovers: 22, (O’Hara, Florence 2, Hicks 2, Burt 5, O’Neill 4, Craddock, Watson, Banks 4, Schelly, Clark). Steals: 13, (O’Hara, Florence, Hicks 2, Burt 3, O’Neill 4, Watson, Banks).
Attendance: 3207. Officials: Melissa Barlow, Chuck Gonzalez, Connie Pardue.Technical fouls: Arizona State-None. Washington-None.