In its previous outing, the Washington women’s basketball team had little trouble hammering an overmatched Portland squad by 27 points without standout freshman point guard Tameiya Sadler.
However, UW’s leading scorer missed her second straight game Saturday due to an undisclosed injury, which left the shorthanded Huskies extremely vulnerable against No. 7 Oregon’s harassing defense that forced 20 turnovers.
Washington had difficulty generating offense and scored its fewest points of the season during a 73-49 defeat at Alaska Airlines Arena.
“I thought we turned the ball over way too many times in the first quarter and put us in a hole,” coach Jody Wynn said. “Twenty turnovers isn’t going to win games in this league. It’s hard without our point guard out on the floor with us.
“It’s no knock on any of the other players, but we’re asking them to be decision-makers and handling a full-court press and putting them in a position they might not be accustomed to doing.”
Freshman Jayda Noble made her second start in place of Sadler, but senior forward Khayla Rooks assumed the playmaking duties and finished with one assist, four turnovers and two points on 1-for-6 shooting.
Every UW starter committed at least two turnovers.
“Khayla had a few turnovers today, but overall she’s been really good for us,” Wynn said. “Today, she shouldered the load and maybe not made some of the better ones, but it’s not just her fault. We all have to step up and handle the ball and make better decisions.”
The Huskies (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12), who entered the game averaging 67.2 points, are 0-10 over the past two seasons when scoring fewer than 50 points.
Washington needed every point possible to keep pace with Oregon, which averages 89.4 points and ran its winning streak over UW to seven straight.
“They’re a unique kind of defense,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “That’s what they do. They scramble around, they switch up. I counted nine different defenses that they run going into this game, so it’s hard to get into any kind of rhythm.
“We wanted to get it out in transition and we had eight fast-break points. That’s not enough. We wanted to really push it and I just don’t think we made great decisions tonight.”
The Huskies fell behind 21-12 after the first quarter and trailed by 17 points (33-16) midway through the second when it appeared the Ducks were poised for an early knockout.
However, backup center Darcy Rees, who scored 14 of her game-high 20 points in the first half, kept Washington in the game while hitting 5 of 7 shots before the break.
“We were excited as the underdog to try to challenge them,” Rees said. “They haven’t had a lot of close games recently. After the game, obviously we’re disappointed to get the loss, but I think we really battled hard, especially in that first half.”
The Huskies trailed 37-26 at halftime.
Sophomore forward Nyara Sabally scored seven of her 13 points in the third for Oregon, which outpaced UW 13-10 in the quarter and went into the fourth with a 50-36 lead.
Before Saturday, Washington had outscored every opponent in the fourth quarter and held a 121-70 advantage.
However, Oregon turned the game into a rout during the final 10 minutes while outscoring UW 23-13. The Huskies converted just 5 of 12 shots and committed seven turnovers in the fourth.
Quay Miller finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for her second career double-double performance for UW.
Sydney Parrish tallied 18 points and Te-Hina Paopao had 12 for Oregon (6-0, 4-0).
It’s unclear if Washington, which has a three-game Pac-12 losing streak, will have Sadler back for Monday’s game against No. 21 Oregon State.
Wynn stressed the importance of ball security going forward.
“It’s not been an easy winter or an easy fall by any stretch of the imagination,” she said. “Certainly not having practice players, not having depth and not being able to simulate what we’re going to face in a game, especially in this league.
“When you see it for the first time in a game, it’s a challenge. It’s one thing that we’re up for and continue to work. … We’re not giving up, we’re not giving in. We’ve all just got to get a little better and placing value on the basketball.”