Jazmine Davis led Washington with 28 points, matching her career high.
PORTLAND — Washington’s matchup with Portland was one that could worry a coach.
The Pilots have only won one game this season, which could have tempted young Husky players to relax. Well, that didn’t have UW coach Kevin McGuff squirming in a 64-44 win at Chiles Center that gave UW (5-1) its best start since 2002. That team started 9-1 and advanced to the NCAA tournament.
However, a Pilots bench player exposing the Huskies’ softer interior gave McGuff something to think about.
“That’s (concentration) still where we are in terms of handling a game where we think we should probably win,” he said. “I don’t think we necessarily handled that the right way the whole game. That’s where we’ve kind of got to grow.”
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UW maintained a double-digit lead after a three-pointer by redshirt senior Kristi Kingma with 10:04 remaining in the first half. But UP’s Annika Holopainen, a freshman from Finland, emerged midway through the second half to give UW fits in the paint.
A 6-foot-1 forward, Holopainen scored all of her team-high 12 points in a six-minute span to pull the Pilots within 11 points with 6:16 remaining. The Huskies promptly responded with a 13-0 run that included two three-pointers by Kingma and five points from sophomore Jazmine Davis, who had a career-high-tying 28 points on 11-for-22 shooting.
UW’s smaller lineup, in which redshirt sophomore Talia Walton, a natural wing, played center, was briefly exposed.
“She (Annika) was working really hard. I’ll give her that,” Walton said. “Our defense just broke down for a little bit. Any time a team is down on their home court, they want to come out super pumped, super fired-up and we can’t have letdowns because we have a lead.”
Despite Washington shooting just 29.4 percent in the first half, it went into the break with a 25-9 lead. Portland’s nine points were the fewest the team had ever scored in a half.
UP (1-6) shot 44.8 percent in the second half, going 13 for 29. And while UW’s defense slipped after halftime, offensively it shot 51.6 percent from the field.
UW’s Aminah Williams, a sophomore forward, had 17 rebounds, her fourth consecutive game with double-digit rebounds.
“It’s our mindset,” said Davis of the lapses. “Sometimes we get to the point where, ‘Oh, we have a comfortable lead, let’s relax. Let’s slow the pace down.’ Coach McGuff definitely repeated that good teams don’t do that. Good teams grab them and keep grabbing them until the game’s over.”
The Huskies return for a three-game homestand beginning against San Diego State (3-2) on Wednesday.
“We’ll probably take two days off between now and then,” said McGuff. “It’s a good chance to get them a little rest and hopefully keep getting better.”
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @JaydaEvans.
WASHINGTON 64, PORTLAND 44
Percentages: FG .400, FT .667. Three-point goals: 8-23, (Walton 0-2, Wetmore 1-3, Kingma 3-8, Davis 4-8, Fortier 0-2). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 2, (Walton, Anderson). Turnovers: 14, (Walton, Williams, Wetmore 2, Kingma 3, Davis 4, Gilling, Anderson, Fortier). Steals: 14, (Walton 3, Williams 2, Kingma 3, Davis, Anderson 4, Fortier).
Percentages: FG .296, FT .667. Three-point goals: 6-22, (THOMPSON 1-1, NURMI 3-8, LUTTINEN 2-7, WOOTON 0-4, BYRD 0-1, HOLOPAINEN 0-1). Team rebounds: 2. Blocked shots: 4, (THOMPSON, NURMI, LUTTINEN, BYRD). Turnovers: 21, (THOMPSON 2, PUPA, NURMI 3, LUTTINEN 3, WOOTON 10, HOLOPAINEN 2). Steals: 9, (THOMPSON, PUPA, NURMI 2, LUTTINEN, WOOTON 2, BYRD 2).
Attendance: 418. Officials: Brenda Pantoja, Michol Murray, L. Renee Robinson.Technical fouls: Washington-None. Portland-None.