She dropped her head in disbelief. Guard Emily Florence had watched her offensively inept team fight to shine on something other than defense when she made a three-pointer in front...
She dropped her head in disbelief.
Guard Emily Florence had watched her offensively inept team fight to shine on something other than defense when she made a three-pointer in front of Washington’s bench to pull the Huskies to 63-60 against UCLA. Seconds later, teammate Cameo Hicks picked off Lisa Willis’ dribble, and the Huskies were primed for an unlikely upset of the 22nd ranked team in the country.
But junior Kristen O’Neill’s three-point attempt rimmed out of the basket. Washington was outscored 11-3 in the closing 3:35, losing 74-63 at Edmundson Pavilion.
After the game, Washington coach June Daugherty spoke of how proud she was of O’Neill taking such a big-time shot. The guard finished with a career-high 19 points, one better than her previous high. But UCLA was truly elated.
Coach Kathy Olivier and star Noelle Quinn playfully shoved each other as they answered questions, the jovial mode obviously the result of starting the Pac-10 season at 5-0 to sit alone atop the conference. Quinn, a back-to-back player of the week, had another superb showing, leading four players in double figures with 18 points and seven rebounds.
“I didn’t even call that many plays for her,” Olivier said of her offensive strategy. “It’s been kind of fun. We have a lot of options. It’s nice to have versatile players and have the different looks on the floor.”
UCLA (11-3, 5-0 Pac-10) used 48 percent shooting in the second half to pull out the victory. Once Washington used a 20-7 spurt to close to three points, the Bruins made four free throws and played steadily.
Washington (6-9, 2-4) lost its third consecutive game and will have today off after playing six games in the past 14 days. The Huskies hit the road for games at Oregon on Thursday and Oregon State on Saturday.
“We know that (UW players) are capable of more than they are able to accomplish out there,” Daugherty said. “Now we have an opportunity to get back into the gym after these last (14) days and make some improvements. They are getting better at a lot of things, and we just have to keep their focus on that instead of the wins and losses.”
Daugherty held on to the basketball while she yelled at an official before heading into the locker room at halftime. When the official tried to grab the ball to walk off the court, she snatched it back then let it dribble out of her hand as she left in a huff. Daugherty was upset at a no-call when forward Breanne Watson went up for a layup, but the Huskies’ problems had nothing to do with officiating.
Daugherty’s steam at the break was an ice chill compared to how hot her team started the game shooting from the field. Washington was 8 for 12 (67 percent) to open, sprinting to a 20-10 lead.
Sophomores Jill Bell and Hicks were developing a nice rhythm, hitting outside jump shots and setting each other up for flashy baskets. Hicks also set up O’Neill for a three-pointer and the latter swept the baseline for a layup to contribute to the lead.
But after the sparse crowd of 3,054 gave the Huskies a rousing ovation, Daugherty tweaked the lineup and the excitement was gone. The Huskies finished the half by missing 15 of their ensuing 18 attempts (17 percent). In fact, Florence’s three-pointer with 52 seconds remaining in the half was the Huskies’ only field goal in the final 10 minutes.
“We rotate a lot of players,” Daugherty said. “When you watch out there and you see people not being able to get back in transition or you see them not reading the switch calls, to me it is a fatigue situation and we just have to get them out.
“Then at the same time, I feel very confident in the bench that we have.”
Although the Huskies continue to shoot below 40 percent, finishing at 33 percent yesterday, O’Neill said the players aren’t concerned.
“It is nice to finally have shots go through the basket,” she said of the early flow. “We’re hard to stop when everyone’s moving around. (But) this group is looking to improve and we know the potential that we have and are trying to reach that.
“Each game that we come out we are looking to pull the trigger and get better. So, it was nice to see some shots start to fall. We aren’t concerned with our poor shooting percentage; we’re just trying to improve.”
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|UCLA (11-3, 5-0 PAC-10)|
|WASHINGTON (6-9, 2-4)|
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