Washington women’s basketball coach Jody Wynn said she approaches every game the same, but it’s hard to deny that this is a huge weekend for her Huskies.
Having lost two consecutive games, including a surprising 66-59 loss at home to Washington State, the Huskies (10-5, 2-2 Pac-12) face a much tougher challenge, with No. 18 Arizona State in town Friday night and No. 21 Arizona coming to Alaska Airlines Arena on Sunday.
Arizona State comes into the game fresh off an incredible weekend when it beat No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Oregon State to vault into the national rankings.
“To us, there is no better time to play them,” Wynn said. “They are the hottest team in the country, and they made history beating the No. 2 and the No. 3 team in country, back-to-back on the same weekend as an unranked opponent. Now they are ranked, and they woke up the world. … For us, there is no better time than to have a chance to knock them off right now.”
Washington’s first Pac-12 loss, at No. 5 Stanford, was no surprise. The home loss to WSU was, coming after the Huskies had beaten the Cougars in Pullman 13 days earlier. WSU rallied from eight points down in the fourth quarter, not the first time UW has given up a late lead this season.
“We’ve got to finish games,” said Husky senior guard Amber Melgoza, who is averaging 19.8 points per game in Pac-12 play. “When it comes down to the last minutes, we’ve got to really focus on the things that matter to win a game, and especially on defense. I think we kind of slacked on that and we didn’t focus on that as well.”
Wynn said the team has had excellent practices this week. They will need to be at their best Friday against the Sun Devils (13-4, 3-2) and their pressure defense. They crash the offensive boards, with 291 offensive rebounds to their opponents’ 158.
That stat was not lost on Melgoza, who said it would be one of the big keys in the game.
“They get a lot of O-boards, and that is something we need to stop them from,” she said.
Arizona (13-3, 2-3) started the season with 13 consecutive victories, but has lost three straight, all to teams who were ranked in the top 10: 70-58 at No. 10 UCLA, 63-61 at home to No. 3 Oregon State and 71-64 at No. 2 Oregon.
The Huskies know they have a challenge ahead, but they also see it as an opportunity.
“This is a very big weekend for us,” Melgoza said.
- Husky great Kelsey Plum, the NCAA career scoring leader, will be the color commentator on the Pac-12 Networks broadcast of Friday night’s game against Arizona State. “It’s fantastic to be able to have her call the game as a Husky and a legend of our game,” Wynn said of Plum, who plays for Las Vegas in the WNBA. “It will be great for our fans to see her again at Alaska Airlines Arena and doing something that she hasn’t done before. This could be a career for her long after her playing days are over.”
- UW has not played ASU at home in three years as last year’s game in Seattle was canceled because of snow. Plum led the Huskies to a 70-57 win over ASU in 2017, scoring a game-high 19 points.