The effort was there for the Washington women’s basketball team but the execution?
Not so much in the first half, and the Huskies never recovered.
No. 18 Arizona State moved into the national rankings on the strength of its defense and rebounding and both were on display Friday night in a 67-50 victory over the Huskies at Alaska Airlines Arena.
It was the third consecutive loss for Washington (10-6, 2-3 Pac-12). Arizona State (14-4, 4-2), which beat No, 2 Oregon and No. 3 Oregon State last week, won its fourth straight.
“We turned the ball over too much in the first half and we missed some shots,” said UW coach Jody Wynn, whose team trailed 30-18 at halftime. “The few shots that are wide open, you’ve got to knock them down, because they don’t give you many.”
The Huskies struggled mightily in the first quarter against Arizona State’s in-your-face, man-to-man defense. ASU led 15-7 after one period, holding UW to 2-for-9 shooting and forcing nine turnovers.
In one stretch, the Huskies turned the ball over on five straight possessions.
The Huskies took a little better care of the ball in the second quarter, but their shooting didn’t get better, making 3 of 14 from the field in the quarter.
Still, Washington was down by just 12 points as it had played spirited defense itself.
Amber Melgoza and Mai-Loni Henson were a combined 5 of 9 from the field for UW in the first half. The rest of the Huskies were 0 for 14. Perhaps the most telling stat was the Huskies’ had eight more first-half turnovers (13) than field goals (five).
“They’re athletic and strong, experienced and physical,” Wynn said. “They come at you in waves, and they did a really nice job of disrupting our guard play.”
Washington turned it around offensively in the third quarter, scoring more points (19) than they had in the first two quarters combined. Despite that, UW only gained one point, trailing 48-37.
The Huskies closed to 48-40 early in the fourth quarter, but the Sun Devils responded with a 10-2 run to regain control. The Huskies didn’t quit in the final minutes even though the outcome wasn’t in doubt and that pleased Wynn, who saw her team give up an eight-point fourth quarter lead in a loss to Washington State last week.
“We talked about not laying down in the last 10 minutes,” Wynn said. “I thought against WSU, we laid down. Tonight, I was proud of our fight. … We didn’t quit tonight and that is a mark of a team that plays with great character and plays hard for each other.”
It just wasn’t enough to beat Arizona State, which held Washington 19 points below its season average.
The Sun Devils had a 33-27 rebounding edge and a 13-8 advantage in second-chance points. Another big stat was ASU scoring 20 points off 18 Husky turnovers and UW scoring just 10 points off Arizona State’s 15 turnovers.
Melgoza had 13 points to lead the Huskies, who shot 50% from the field in the second half to get to 32.7% (16 of 49) for the game.
It does not get any easier for Washington as it meets No. 21 Arizona (14-3, 3-3) in a noon game Sunday at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The Wildcats defeated WSU 74-67 on Friday night to snap a three-game losing streak.