Sunday’s 81-52 blowout over George Mason allowed coach Jody Wynn to empty the bench and rest UW’s starters, including Amber Melgoza who tallied 20 points, six rebounds and three assists in just 26 minutes.
For the second time this season — and for just the third since Jody Wynn took over last year — the Washington women’s basketball team won back-to-back games.
Getting three in a row might be a tall order for the Huskies. But that’s a concern for another day.
For now, Washington will celebrate a second consecutive double-digit victory against an overmatched opponent.
“We don’t have any reason to look ahead,” Wynn said after Sunday’s 81-52 blowout over George Mason. “Wins are hard to come by. We’re taking it one game at a time and one practice at a time trying to get better.”
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To that end, Wynn felt good about the Huskies giving up just 52 points, which was the fewest in her UW tenure.
And the 29-point drubbing — the most lopsided win for the second-year coach — allowed Wynn to empty the bench and rest UW’s starters in the fourth quarter.
The easy home win was essential considering the Huskies were playing their second game of a challenging three-contests-in-six-days stretch that concludes with a difficult matchup Wednesday against Ohio State (3-2).
After a sluggish first quarter in which Washington was overly reliant on perimeter shooting, and converting just 2 of 15 three-pointers, UW took control of the game.
“There was a definite lid on the rim in the first quarter,” Wynn said. “We took a lot of threes, 15 of them. But 13 of them, I think, were good shots.
“I thought we did a better job in the second quarter of creating some transition opportunities through our defense. Getting some steals and turning them over, that created some better shots for us.”
After falling behind 16-13 in the first quarter, momentum swung in the second when the Huskies turned up its defensive intensity and held the Patriots (4-4) to just 4 of 20 shooting, including 1 of 7 from downtown.
The Huskies took their offensive attack inside and became much more selective on its perimeter shots (3 of 5 in the second).
Washington converted 9 of 15 field goals while outscoring George Mason 24-9 in the second quarter to take a 37-25 lead into halftime.
“In the beginning we weren’t loose, and we were kind of tight,” said junior star guard Amber Melgoza who finished with 20 points, six rebounds and three assists in just 26 minutes. “It happens. … I thought that eventually we focused on our shots, and we knocked them down.”
The Huskies never let the Patriots back into the game in the second half and continued to pour it on. They outscored George Mason 20-16 in the third quarter and 24-11 in the fourth.
Haley Van Dyke (13 points) sank a jumper that put UW up by 20 points (61-41) with nine minutes left.
Near the end of the game, the freshman forward canned a layup that gave the Huskies their largest lead at 79-48.
Sophomore guard Missy Peterson also had 11 points for Washington, which improved to 5-3.
Even though George Mason’s Nicole Cardano-Hillary scored 14 points, the Huskies hampered the sophomore star into a miserable 5-for-21 shooting performance. She was 1 of 10 on three-pointers and committed nine of the Patriots’ 22 turnovers.
Wynn lamented George Mason’s 17 offensive rebounds and UW’s 16 turnovers, but the Huskies held the Patriots to 29.7 percent shooting and just six free-throw attempts in their best defensive performance in two seasons.
The timing couldn’t have been better considering Ohio State’s imminent arrival.
Former UW coach Kevin McGuff returns to Alaska Airlines Arena with a Buckeyes team that finished 28-7 last season in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
And yet, Wynn won’t feed into any pregame hype.
“It’s just as big as any game in our opinion,” she said. “Every game counts as one win. Nothing counts as two wins. In our eyes it’s our next game. It’s our biggest game because it’s our next game.
“It’s a big name on the schedule. Obviously, it’s a great opponent in the Big Ten, but in our eyes every game is a big game.”