Finally, a reason to celebrate for the Washington women’s basketball team.
After nine straight losses, including three in overtime, the Huskies wilted against Colorado, but they didn’t break.
That was something to savor after the Huskies held off the Buffaloes for a 61-52 victory Sunday afternoon at Alaska Airlines Arena.
“I am just so happy for the ladies who have been working so hard to finally be rewarded with a W,” said UW coach Jody Wynn. “Sometimes it’s discouraging when they work really hard like they have, and they play with the kind of effort they have been playing with, but the performance not always matching the effort. … It feels good for them to finish and get the reward they worked so hard for.”
That the win came against a team struggling almost as badly itself — Colorado has lost seven of its past eight games — did not matter. Any win is worth celebrating, especially after battling back when the Buffaloes cut UW’s 15-point second-half lead to two points.
The Huskies (11-12, 3-9 Pac-12) have let several leads slip away this season, but not this time.
“They just had a different look to them defensively,” Wynn said of her players.
When Colorado, which trailed 39-24 early in the second half, cut UW’s led lead to 45-43 with 3:07 left in the third period, things got tense at the arena, and remained so. But the Huskies made several big shots in the fourth quarter to keep the lead, including two huge three-pointers from Mai-Loni Henson, who also had four steals.
“Huge,” Wynn said of Henson’s fourth-period three-pointers. “Mai-Loni was an incredible vocal leader on the floor tonight, getting some deflections and steals. She was all over the place.”
The Buffaloes still had a chance after a three-pointer cut UW’s lead to 57-52 with 1:16 left, but they didn’t score again and soon the Huskies were exchanging hugs.
UW started fast, taking a 15-4 lead midway through the first quarter.
The Huskies cooled off considerably from the field after that, but they stifled Colorado (14-9, 3-9) and led 37-24 at halftime. Haley Van Dyke’s put-back basket just before the halftime buzzer gave UW its biggest lead of the half.
Eight players had at least three first-half points for UW. The Huskies needed that with their top scorer this season, Amber Melgoza, missing a good chunk of time in the first half after picking up her second foul.
The Huskies scored the first basket of the second half before Colorado battled back. Just not all the way back.
Melgoza had 12 points to lead UW and Henson added 10. Guard T.T. Watkins getting her first start of the season, had a career high eight rebounds.
The Huskies got good production from several others as well.
“We have been down a little bit, so we just wanted to go all out,” Henson said. “We wanted to have confidence and think positive and it worked better for us.”