The loudest cheers from the Washington women’s basketball team’s bench were at the oddest moments.
As deep reserves made unexpected rebounds or shots, the roars grew in a 83-60 win against Montana State on Sunday at Alaska Airlines Arena. Every UW player who was used scored, led by freshman guard Kelsey Plum’s 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the field.
Junior guard Jazmine Davis, who celebrated her 20th birthday Sunday, added 17 points, while forwards Talia Walton (11) and Aminah Williams (10) handled the rebounding.
“It’s really a big blessing to find out early that when we share the ball and multiple people are in double figures, it makes us really hard to beat,” Plum said. “It’s very valuable but also when you’re sharing the ball, it’s fun.”
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The Huskies shot 48.4 percent from the field against MSU (4-4). In a win against Wisconsin on Friday, six UW players scored in double figures as UW shot 52.5 percent from the field.
The good times took about five minutes to get started Sunday, however.
UW (4-3) opened the game by scoring on its first five attempts to make its four turnovers in the opening five minutes a mere irk for the coaching staff. Washington had 18 turnovers overall, but MSU couldn’t capitalize on its aggressive defense, leading just once in the game and only totaling eight points off the UW errors.
“There’s more teachable moments in this game (than Wisconsin),” said first-year UW coach Mike Neighbors.
Up 22-19 late in the opening half, UW used a 9-0 run to build a double-digit lead. On consecutive possessions, Plum nailed a pinpoint jumper, grabbed a steal and passed it to Williams for a layin with 4:57 on the clock to cap the scoring stretch.
UW finished with 35 points off 21 MSU turnovers, holding the Bobcats to 29.2 percent shooting.
“We talked about building off the Wisconsin win, that we can’t just be having fun when we play good,” Davis said. “We were struggling a little bit in this game. But Neighbors (made) an emphasis that we have to play like this good or bad. (And) It’s easier when you trust that everybody can score points and everybody can be aggressive.”
The Huskies leave Tuesday for a three-game tournament in Las Vegas. Washington opens against Louisiana-Monroe. UW will also play DePaul and Pittsburgh in consecutive nights.
Neighbors agreed to play in the pre-Christmas tournament to give his young team experience playing in consecutive games like they’ll face in the Pac-12 tournament in March. Of the three opponents, UW has only played DePaul in the past, leading the series 2-1. The last meeting was in 1990 in Seattle.
“I’m all about culture and experiencing and there’s a lot of things to experience in Vegas,” Neighbors said. “We’ll have a what to do and what not to do (conversation) but we’re certainly going to go down there and let them have a good time. They work too hard in the classroom and on the court to be locked into a hotel room.”
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com.