The Washington women’s basketball team is intent on finding alternative options on offense to support Amber Melgoza and Missy Peterson, which is why its leading scorers sat on the bench for long stretches in Friday’s night’s season opener.
Melgoza still finished with 14 points and Peterson made three three-pointers for 11, but thanks to a balanced scoring attack, the Huskies didn’t need to tax their stars to subdue Cal State Bakersfield 80-49 in front of a sparse crowd of 1,187 at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The 31-point blowout – the largest margin of victory under Jody Wynn – allowed the third-year coach to balance the minutes evenly among an injury-riddled nine-player rotation.
“It was a little intentional taking (Melgoza and Peterson) out because they’ve got a long road ahead,” Wynn said. “It’s a long season and we’ve got to be careful of everybody’s bodies when we can. It’s not going to always be the case.
“But that’s the beauty of our team. We are a total team and everybody can perform.”
With Melgoza logging 19 minutes, 14 seconds and Peterson 17:06, sophomore reserve Haley Van Dyke led the way offensively and finished with a career-high 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Sophomore center Darcy Rees added 10 points while sophomore reserve guard T.T. Watkins scored nine points.
“It’s really nice to see Haley and T.T. playing with confidence,” Wynn said. “Darcy got her confidence a little bit last year sooner than the others. To be able to have that sophomore group shoulder some of the scoring load is great.”
At times, Van Dyke was the best player on the floor and controlled the game at both ends. Friday’s performance might have been a breakthrough after a freshman year when the 6-foot-1 forward averaged 4.4 points and 3.1 minutes in 32 games.
“My confidence last year really wasn’t there,” said Van Dyke, who played a team-high 25:23. “I knew what I was doing, but this year I really get it. I know where I’m going on defense. I know the plays. That’s the big thing for me, is just being confident.”
Both teams came out flat early while combining for 28 first-half turnovers. CSUB finished with 31, which led to 34 points for UW.
“Our defense was relentless tonight,” Wynn said. “We made some mistakes and didn’t rotate properly all the time, but to be able to generate so much offense from our defense is outstanding and a testament to their all-out effort.”
The Huskies, who led 36-26 at halftime, put the game away in the third quarter when they outscored the Roadrunners 25-10.
Rees scored six points in the third while Melgoza had five, including a three-pointer that gave UW a 55-34 lead with 2:16 left in the quarter.
Cal State Bakersfield (1-1), which received 13 points from Jayden Eggleston and 12 from Ashley Austin, never got closer than 23 points in the fourth.
— Freshman center JaQuaya Miller sat out Friday and will miss Sunday’s 2 p.m. game against Tulane due to illness.