Haley Van Dyke and Tameiya Sadler each scored 18 points to lead the No. 11 seed Washington women’s basketball team to a 68-54 upset victory over No. 6 Colorado in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday night at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.
The Huskies, who lost twice to the Buffaloes during the regular season, kept Colorado off balance with rotating defensive schemes that switched between multiple zones, man-to-man defense and a full-court press.
Washington collected 13 steals and forced 20 turnovers, which led to 29 points. Colorado’s 54 points were the second-fewest UW has allowed a Pac-12 opponent this season.
“We play every defense that we have,” Van Dyke said. “There’s probably like seven defenses that we go through each game. I think that’s what tricked them. Just switching up constantly and always having something new to throw at them it really makes them rush and it really helped us tonight.”
Quay Miller and Alexis Griggsby, who each finished with 11 points, had five and four steals, respectively.
In her first postseason game, Sadler tallied a career-high eight assists, four rebounds and three steals to offset four turnovers.
“She played with a lot of joy in her heart,” coach Jody Wynn said. “She worked for herself but she worked for her teammates first. She didn’t try to force action.”
Washington advances to the quarterfinals to face No. 3 UCLA at 8 p.m. Thursday (on Pac-12 Networks).
Following a disastrous first quarter, Washington outscored Colorado in each period the rest of the way. Early in the game, the Huskies were undone by seven turnovers, including three 24-second violations, which resulted in 14 points for the Buffaloes.
UW trailed 19-12 heading into the second and was down 21-13 before momentarily taking control with a 16-2 run, including 11 straight points.
Miller snagged an errant pass for a steal before finding Griggsby on the wing for a 29-23 lead with 2:30 left before the break.
Washington, which led 34-28 at halftime, connected on 5 of 8 three-pointers and outscored Colorado 22-9 in the second quarter.
However, the Huskies started the third quarter missing their first five shots, which allowed Buffalo to score six straight points tie the score at 34-34.
Down 36-35, Washington used an 18-2 run to seize control for good and go up by 15 points (53-38) with a minute remaining in the third quarter.
Colorado pulled to within eight points (57-49) with 5:08 left when Sadler and Van Dyke answered with back-to-back three-pointers to pull ahead 63-49 with 2½ minutes remaining.
“Our struggle in the past has always been finishing games,” Van Dyke said. “We did a great job. It was a total team effort.”
Frida Formann and Mya Hollingshed each had 16 points for the Buffaloes, which entered the game with a four-game winning streak. CU (10-10) needed to make a run in Las Vegas to preserve its NCAA tournament hopes.
Meanwhile, Washington (7-13) hopes to recreate its 2019 Pac-12 Tournament magic when the Huskies pulled off a pair of upsets to advance to the semifinals.
“We have some revenge from last year because last year we didn’t play so well in the first game,” Wynn said referring to a 72-63 first-round defeat to Utah. “Overall as a team we were still so new and young and figuring out what we were doing.
“This team really gelled together. Their chemistry and camaraderie with each other is unlike any Husky team I’ve ever coached. It’s nice to see them genuinely support one another and care for each other on and off the court.”
In their only meeting this season, Washington lost 84-50 against UCLA on Feb. 7 at Alaska Airlines Arena. The Huskies committed a season-high tying 22 turnovers against the Bruins.
“UCLA is so talented and we saw what they did a couple of days ago,” Wynn said alluding to UCLA’s 93-51 win over USC on Sunday. “They have players that can really fly around and disrupt things.
“We got to make sure that we stay poised with basketball and dribble with purpose when we dribble. Have better screening action. And have greedy receivers as well so the ball doesn’t just stick in Tameiya’s hands.”