Jody Wynn spoke into a camera at a postgame teleconference wearing a black cloth face mask that read “Always Compete.”
It was a fitting clothing accessory considering the Washington women’s basketball team arrived at Sunday’s game against No. 6 Stanford with a depleted roster that was missing three starters.
Not surprisingly, UW dropped its sixth straight game — a 74-48 defeat inside an empty Alaska Airlines Arena — but Wynn believes the score only tells half of the story.
“As long as we have seven (players) and are able to play and our kids want to play and they want to compete, then we’re going to keep fighting,” she said. “We’re going to keep plugging along. We have girls that are growing up.
“To me I have to draw on those positive aspects right now.”
It was the Huskies’ 10th straight loss to the Cardinal — a four-year streak that began on Jan. 29, 2017.
In their first meeting on Dec. 6, the Cardinal handed the Huskies their worst loss of the season — an 83-50 defeat in Las Vegas.
In the rematch, the Huskies were severely short-handed and played without leading scorer Tameiya Sadler, senior forward Khayla Rooks, who leads UW in assists, and freshman guard Jayda Noble.
Sadler, who dealt with back spasms earlier this season, and Rooks missed the game due to undisclosed injuries. Meanwhile, Noble, who watched from the sideline, is out indefinitely because of personal reasons, Wynn said.
“I’m really proud of the fact that we could have easily quit,” Wynn said. “We could have easily not even shown up today quite frankly because we didn’t know if we were going to have seven on scholarship able to play.”
The Pac-12’s new COVID-19 protocols stipulate basketball teams must have seven scholarship players to participate.
“Two of the kids that played 18 and 21 minutes are coming off of their COVID protocol and hadn’t played since Jan. (3),” Wynn said. “We could have easily said not today Stanford, we’re just going to postpone the game. But our team wanted to fight.”
Washington began the game with a makeshift lineup that included centers Quay Miller and Darcy Rees against Stanford’s four-guard attack that led the Pac-12 in scoring (80.8 points per game) and points allowed (55.4).
During the first quarter, the Huskies rolled out lineups that included freshman walk-on guard Carol Chikusa, a practice player who was added to the active roster the night before the game, freshman walk-on guard AJ Martineau, who had tallied just 13 minutes before Sunday and freshman guard Jess Finney, who joined the team four weeks ago and played her fifth game.
“We said you’re going to make mistakes,” Wynn said. “You might turn the ball over. You might miss an assignment. You might forget to set a screen or forget to box out. But your hustle, your attitude, your toughness and the pep in your step with which you play will make up for mistakes in our eyes.”
It took the Huskies awhile to get adjusted to so many new faces in so many new roles, while the Cardinal rolled to a big lead and never looked back.
Anna Wilson, the younger sister of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, collected a steal and raced to the other end for a layup that put Stanford up 17-7 with 5:04 left in the first quarter.
At the end of the period, Washington trailed 28-9 and finished with more turnovers (eight) than field goals (seven).
From there, the Huskies regrouped thanks in large part to Miller (14 points and five rebounds) and played the Cardinal to a virtual standstill the rest of the way.
Stanford outscored Washington 46-39 in the final three quarters.
Still, the Huskies, who trailed 41-19 at halftime, never got closer than 18 points in the second half and were down by as many as 31.
“It’s a different lineup that we had in,” Wynn said. “We let six 3s go right away. We kind of got sucker punched if you will to start the game and then I think we settled in. We lost the fourth quarter by one, the third quarter by three and the second quarter by three.
“They wanted to compete. I thought we showed that in the last three quarters.”
Hannah Jump finished with a game-high 15 points while Lexie Hull, Kiana Williams and Haley Jones each had 12 for Stanford (15-2, 12-2), which collected its fourth straight win. The Cardinal reserves also outscored UW 29-3.
Washington shot 35.3% from the field while Stanford was 46.0%.
Wynn lamented the Huskies’ 17 turnovers that led to 24 points. Stanford also had a 34-20 advantage in points in the paint.
Washington (4-8, 1-8) hasn’t won a game since Dec. 13, but Wynn believes the Huskies are improving and highlighted Miller, Martineau and Chikusa as signs of the team’s growth.
“We got a group of women that have an incredible belief and positive mindset right now,” she said. “Nobody is woe is me and there are no energy vampires. When you have a group of people that is continuing to find ways to contribute in some way or another, it’s a beautiful thing in any organization. I think we have some people that are learning about themselves and a lot about opportunity.
“I’m proud of people that maybe have never been given an opportunity rising up and taking advantage when opportunity presents itself.”