The game meant more than city pride.
When Washington’s women’s basketball team hit the court to play Tuesday, it needed to rebuild confidence and begin to restitch together a season filled with promise. The fact those goals could be reached against crosstown rival Seattle U was a treat.
The Huskies took a half to get adjusted. But a 15-4 run to start the second half was enough to buoy an 82-60 victory at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Freshman Kelsey Plum was an unstoppable highlight. She scored 18 of her game-high 22 points in the second half.
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“Halftime, I was all over her,” said UW junior guard Jazmine Davis of Plum. “I was like, ‘Do we have another guard out there? Are you invisible? You better go to the basket!’ At the start of the second half, she started off with a little layup and I was like, ‘Oh, well, there you are.’
“It’s good when we have all five of us attacking. If somebody falls off, you can see it.”
Plum is averaging 22.3 points this season, yet it’s hard to talk about the high school All-American’s ease in transitioning her offensive game to college when her team’s defense has been questionable to open the season.
Washington (1-2) allowed its first two opponents to score 91 points apiece in losses to Saint Mary’s (91-81) and Portland (91-77). It improved against SU, holding the Redhawks to 26.3 percent shooting from the field in the first half.
Davis had 18 points, eight assists and six rebounds for the Huskies (1-2). Kennedy High product Aminah Williams had 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and nine rebounds.
Seattle U was outrebounded 25-12 by UW in the second half.
“Mercedes (Wetmore) did a great job talking to us,” Plum said of the senior guard. Wetmore’s defensive assignment was SU senior Ashley Ward, holding her to 11 points on 3-for-17 shooting. “She (Mercedes) was always saying ‘I got your help’ and that really started us to be able to get stops and get going on offense.”
The Redhawks (0-3) returned senior guard Sylvia Shephard to the starting lineup. She missed the second half of her team’s home loss to Washington State last week after bruising her right leg and had it bandaged Tuesday. She had 13 points and five assists.
The Redhawks were equally desperate for a win at Alaska Airlines Arena. The defending Western Athletic Conference regular-season champions, SU wanted a better start.
Coach Joan Bonvicini starts a freshman point guard and has 10 underclassmen on the roster overall.
The Redhawks were led by senior forward Kacie Sowell, the reigning WAC player of the year, who had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
“Confidence is a fragile thing,” Bonvicini said. “We need to pick it up. We’re a better team than what we’re showing.”
The Redhawks play at Portland State on Friday and Portland on Sunday.
UW has a break in its schedule, not playing until a trip at Houston (Dec. 4) and Texas A&M (Dec. 7).
Coach Mike Neighbors said more time will be spent on improving the Huskies’ defense and healing injuries.
Freshman center Chantel Osahor (shoulder) should make her college debut in Texas.
“The kids, finally, buckled down and really trusted each other a lot,” Neighbors said of the win. “You could really see it at halftime. When I walked in there, they were talking and drawing it out.
“They fought really hard all three games, but if you don’t win, it’s hard to be rewarded. This is a good way to go into that break.”
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @JaydaEvans