Welcome to the Pac-12, Tina Langley.
Following the Washington women’s basketball team’s 57-43 defeat against Washington State on Sunday, the new Husky coach remains winless against Pac-12 opponents after six games.
The losing streak includes a handful of heartbreaking defeats. Perhaps the most painful setback was Friday’s 60-56 overtime loss at Washington State when UW converted just 6 of 21 free throws and led by nine points with less than five minutes left in regulation.
In Sunday’s rematch in front of 3,023 at Alaska Airlines Arena, Washington kept pace for more than three quarters and trailed by just four points with 7½ minutes left.
However, the Cougars outscored UW 16-8 in the fourth quarter, turned up their defensive intensity and literally ran away from a Husky team that looked tired and lethargic.
“Our energy was lacking today a little bit,” said senior forward Haley Van Dyke, who finished with a team-high 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting and eight rebounds. “We could have definitely come into this game with a little more excitement and hunger to win.
“Other than that, we’ve been having some growth. I think our culture is still good regardless of our losses.”
Since their 5-3 start, the Huskies have dropped six straight games and fallen to 5-9 overall and 0-6 in the Pac-12.
Washington’s last win was Dec. 20, a 58-42 victory over Nevada. Since then, the Huskies were shut down for two weeks due to a COVID outbreak. They returned from the long layoff and lost 63-48 at UCLA.
Langley believes UW made incremental improvement in the next four games, which were all single-digit defeats.
But Sunday, the Huskies regressed. They committed 18 turnovers that led to 22 points. They had no answer defensively for WSU’s Charlisse Leger-Walker (game-high 19 points) and Johanna Teder (16).
And the Huskies had no offensive threat aside from Van Dyke. No other UW player scored more than seven points and collectively they scored 26 points on 11-of-33 shooting.
“We talked about trust … and sometimes in tight games we’ll put our heads down and plow into ball screens and there’s not the trust to continue to run and understand that there’s another person who can make the play,” Langley said. “That’s on me to make sure we get there and we get to where we can trust that other people can make the play.”
Washington, which led by six points early in the first quarter, lost control of the game late in the period.
The Cougars (13-6, 5-3) might have guessed they were headed to their third straight win considering the way they finished the first quarter.
Teder made the play of the day – and perhaps the season – when she tossed a shot from beyond half court that beat the first-quarter buzzer, sailed 50 feet and splashed in the net for an uncanny three-pointer that gave the Cougars a 15-10 lead.
Washington State stretched its advantage to 22-10 midway through the second quarter before UW ended the period with an 11-2 run. Husky senior guard Missy Peterson capped the scoring with an off-balance midrange jumper as time expired in the first half.
Washington, which trailed 24-21 at the break, went up 30-28 after Nancy Mulkey’s three-pointer with 6:51 left in the third. The lead seesawed a few times and Van Dyke put UW up 35-34 with 3:33 left in the third.
The Cougars countered with a 7-0 run to reclaim the lead for good and went ahead 41-35 heading to the fourth.
The Huskies never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
Afterward, Langley expressed disappointment and admitted UW “went backwards a little bit.”
“We came out a little uncharacteristic,” she said. “Our defense was not what it normally is. That led to a little bit of reaction on the offensive end of the floor. It usually fuels who we are offensively when we can get big stops.”
This is the longest stretch of losses for Langley since she began her coaching career with seven straight losses when she took over a Rice team that finished 9-22 in 2015-16.
After her first year with the Owls, Langley won at least 21 games in the next five seasons and compiled a 126-61 record before taking over at Washington last year.
Heading into next week’s road trip at Utah and Colorado, Langley and the Huskies are still looking for their first Pac-12 win.
“We might have put too much pressure on this is the game that we’re going to win,” Langley said. “When we get like that, you put too much pressure on every play. If we stay focused on the process, we’re going to see this team grow leaps and bounds every day.”
- Husky senior guard Alexis Griggsby and sophomore guard Nia Lowery suffered season-ending knee injuries. Griggsby appeared in seven games and averaged 6.7 points while Lowery played in six games and averaged 1.8 points. Both are expected to return next season.
- The Huskies honored former coach June Daugherty during a halftime ceremony that included her husband Mike, children Doc and Breanne and several of her former UW players. Daugherty died last August. She dealt with heart issues late in her celebrated career.
Daugherty was a fixture in Northwest women’s basketball who compiled a 443-441 career record at Boise State (1989-96), Washington (1996-2007) and WSU (2007-18). During her 11-year tenure on Montlake, she went 191-139 and led the Huskies to six NCAA tournament appearances, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 2001.