At the start and near the end, the Huskies couldn’t find the basket against a smothering Stanford defense that held them to a combined 11 points in the first and fourth quarters.
Washington had a few shining moments Friday night but was unable to put together a complete game and lost 58-41 to the No. 6 Cardinal in front of 2,112 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
During their postgame handshake, UW coach Jody Wynn and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer shared a similar critique.
“I thought it was ugly all around (and) Tara thought it was ugly as well,” Wynn said. “That’s the first thing she said to me. That was an ugly game. It wasn’t pretty.”
It was the seventh straight defeat for the Huskies, who fell to 10-10 and 2-7 in the Pac-12.
And it was also UW’s eighth straight loss against Stanford (19-2, 8-1), which has controlled the series the past three years including a 77-56 win on Jan. 5 at Maples Pavilion.
By comparison, Washington’s previous game against the Cardinal could be considered a track meet compared to the way the Huskies played in the rematch.
Their 41 points were the fewest since tallying 39 on Jan. 25 last year during a lopsided defeat against then-No. 9 Oregon State.
Washington shot just 28.3 percent from the field, including 26.7 percent (4 of 15) on three-pointers.
And UW’s starters, which scored just one point in the first half, finished with seven on 2-for-21 shooting.
“I’ve never seen that out of a group that’s fairly veteran,” Wynn said.
Senior guard Amber Melgoza, UW’s leading scorer who entered the game averaging 15.4 points, embodied the Huskies’ offensive struggles and was held scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting.
It was the first time Melgoza has not scored in a game since her freshman season.
“Credit their defense,” Wynn said. “They really did a good job of playing positional and didn’t allow Amber to come off any screens or touch the ball the way she wants to.”
In the first quarter the Huskies shot 1 for 11 from the field and committed four turnovers while falling behind 16-3.
It was a horrendous start that didn’t factor into the outcome because Washington had its best stretch when it outscored Stanford 15-2 at the start of the second to erase its deficit and tie the game 18-18.
“The first five came out frustrated,” Wynn said. “They played mad. Played frustrated. I’m proud of our second group’s energy. … They got us back into the game. You can’t play this game mad. And I think some of us were in our own feelings.”
Stanford quickly regained control, closed the second quarter with a 14-4 run and took a 32-22 lead at halftime.
Washington trailed 41-33 at the start of the fourth, but the game slipped away when the Huskies missed their first six shots while the Cardinal began the quarter with an 8-0 run to go ahead 49-33 with 7:02 left.
UW never got closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
“I feel like as a team we don’t really realize that we’re right there and at times we play not to lose instead of playing to win,” said freshman center JaQuaya Miller, who led UW with 10 points off the bench. “That impacts our game a lot. At times when we’re down by just eight points, we think we’re down 20 and we start to put our head down.”
Washington forced 14 turnovers and held Stanford 18 points fewer than its scoring average.
However, the Huskies never had an answer for Stanford guards Lexie Hull (17 points and 11 rebounds) and Kiana Williams (16 points and five assists) who combined to score nine of the Cardinal’s 17 points in the decisive fourth quarter.
Washington converted 2 of 9 shots, including 0 of 4 three-pointers while scoring eight points in the fourth.
“At time we didn’t execute and we rushed shots and missed open looks,” Miller said. “That’s something we have to work on.
Washington begins the second half of the Pac-12 season with a noon Sunday game against California. The Huskies beat the Golden Bears 67-64 four weeks ago.
“We don’t worry about what happened in the last game,” Wynn said. “We’re very present about what we need to do. Today we just had some kids play very frustrated. Not a not of communication on the floor.”