The inexperienced Huskies were defeated 79-59 by Idaho State in the UW coaching debut of Jody Wynn.
A 79-59 season-opening defeat Sunday officially began a new era of Washington women’s basketball with coach Jody Wynn and closed the book on the greatest four-year run in the program’s history.
Jenna Moser, a senior and former walk-on who was granted a scholarship in the offseason, started for UW at point guard, where Kelsey Plum last season became the NCAA’s all-time scoring leader.
Chantel Osahor and Katie Collier, who were fan favorites among many of the 1,479 at Alaska Airlines Arena, have since graduated and been replaced by a new cast of unproven players.
In the backcourt, the Huskies started senior Mackenzie Wieburg, sophomore Amber Melgoza and Moser alongside freshman forwards Fapou Semebene and Khayla Rooks.
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“To be honest, I was super nervous because it was kind of like my first hurrah,” said Melgoza, who has the most experience among the starters. She averaged 2.1 points and 7.9 minutes last season.
“I was super excited, as I know was everybody else, Jenna and Mack, Khayla and Kierra (Collier) and all of the freshmen,” said Melgoza who finished with 10 points on 3-for-15 shooting in 25 minutes. “They played great. They played phenomenal.”
The Huskies trailed for the entire first half and were down 40-37 at halftime thanks to a flurry of first-half three-pointers (7 of 20) and a pressure defense that forced 10 turnovers before the break.
Melgoza made a trey that gave Washington its first lead (42-40) with 8:33 left in the third quarter. Two possessions later, Moser sank one of two free throws that put UW ahead 45-42 at the 7:01 mark.
At that point, Idaho State (2-0) began to pull away thanks to junior guard Brooke Blair, who finished with a game-high 30 points on 12-for-15 shooting, including six three-pointers.
After three quarters, the Bengals led 55-47. And they outscored the short-handed Huskies, who had 10 healthy players, 24-12 in the fourth.
“There might be some physical fatigue, certainly,” Wynn said. “It’s our very first game and we’re not in scrimmage mode all the time in practices, unfortunately. There were a lot of mental breakdowns and credit their execution.”
Washington forced 20 turnovers, but allowed Idaho State to shoot 60.4 percent from the field and 50 percent (10 of 20) on three-pointers.
The Huskies shot 29.9 percent from the floor and 30.6 percent (11 of 36) behind the arc. They were also outrebounded 46 -27.
“We took a lot of ill-advised, unnecessary quick shots,” said Wynn, who was hired after Mike Neighbors left to coach Arkansas. “Impatient shots. And it led to a poor percentage.”
Collier, who made 4 of 6 shots, led the Huskies with 11 points off the bench. All 10 UW players took at least four field-goal attempts and logged no fewer than 13 minutes.
“I felt like we hit some rough patches,” Melgoza said about the fourth-quarter collapse. “It’s something that as time goes on, it will all fall together. We will connect. We’ve only been playing together since our first official practice in October.
“And now we’re finally on the big stage. It will eventually all come together.”