PULLMAN — Washington used its aggressiveness to get to the free-throw line in its Pac-12 women’s basketball opener and converted that to a 12-point advantage in its 65-56 victory Sunday over host Washington State.
The Huskies (9-3, 1-0 Pac-12) were 14 for 17 at the line compared to 2 of 6 for the Cougars (7-6, 0-1).
“The better and more aggressive team won tonight,” said WSU coach Kamie Ethridge. “They got the breaks. They got every loose ball and they played with more energy than we did. They got a lot of calls and got to the free-throw line and that’s an indication of a more aggressive team.”
The Huskies got 17 points from Amber Melgoza, who connected on 9 of 10 free throws. Rita Pleskevich added a career-high 12 points for the winners and Missy Peterson had 11, hitting 4 of 5 shots from the field.
Chanelle Molina scored 15 points for the Cougars, going 6 of 10 from the field, including 3 of 4 from three-point range.
Washington led through much of the game, but saw its lead drop to just one point after back-to-back three-pointers by the Cougars made it 35-34 with 5:59 left in the third quarter. The Huskies would answer right back, using a 12-1 run over the next four minutes to take a 12-point lead with 2:05 left in the quarter.
The Cougars closed to six points late in the fourth quarter, but got no closer as the Huskies went 5 of 6 from the line the rest of the way.
This was the eighth opponent UW has held to less than 60 points this season.
“We struggled in every phase of the game,” Ethridge said. “We struggled mightily on the offensive end, and they turned us over a little bit too much. It was just a bad night for us offensively.”
WSU’s Jovana Subasic had 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Borislava Hristova — WSU’s leading scorer at 19.2 points a game coming in — was limited to just 10 points.
“They switched a lot on defense, especially in the post, and with our youth in the post, we weren’t able to make them pay for switching” Ethridge said. “They got us out of rhythm today, especially for Bobi and Chanelle, and it’s tough on us when those two aren’t clicking offensively.”
WSU posted a higher field goal percentage (42.1%) than UW (38.6%), but the 12-point differential at the charity stripe offset WSU’s shooting advantage.
The victory snapped a two-game UW losing streak in Pullman, but gives the Huskies a 73-16 overall lead in the series.