Nov. 14, 2012
By Gregg Bell - UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - Kristi Kingma flashed a relieved grin the size of KeyArena.
Fourteen months after reconstructive knee surgery, two days after a rust-filled return game, the Huskies' all-conference scorer was once again swishing rainbows and playing all but 1 minute of Washington's gritty, overtime fight with its neighbor.
"I'm back. I'm back!" Kingma exclaimed with a smile and a sigh under the same basket she had singed with five 5-pointers moments earlier. "Oh, I love playing with my teammates and this school so much. My coaches are amazing.
"I'm back. And it feels sooooo good!"
Jazmine Davis, last season's Pac-12 freshman of the year, played all 45 minutes on a twisted ankle and scored 21 points -- including a driving basket in traffic and free throw for the decisive 3-point play with 16.5 seconds remaining in overtime. That, Kingma's 22 points and huge, 3-pointers late, plus a big blocked shot by freshman Mathilde Gilling allowed these gritty Dawgs to outlast Seattle University 77-75 Wednesday night at KeyArena.
Yes, these depleted Huskies again dressed only eight semi-healthy players. Then with 3:48 left in overtime Mercedes Wetmore - who at 5-feet-8 had a team high seven rebounds to go with six steals -- left with searing leg cramps. Those required intravenous fluids to treat in the locker room afterward.
But two of the remaining seven Huskies were still named Davis and Kingma.
"We stuck together the whole game," said coach Kevin McGuff, who has changed the culture and commitment of the program in 20 months since arriving from top-10 Xavier.
"I really like the competitive nature of our team. Yeah, I'd like to have more bodies. But I don't.
"I like how those that are here compete."
Kingma, playing her second game since March 2011 following her torn anterior cruciate ligament, had just five points at halftime. But the 2011 all-conference scorer with a black brace over her right knee was 4 for 7 from 3-point range in the final two periods.
Two of those 3-point swishes allowed UW to retake the lead after Seattle U. had twice surged ahead by 1 late in regulation.
When Kingma's fourth 3-pointer of the second half swished through from the left corner, UW led 65-56 with 2:08 left. Kingma pumped her right fist as the Huskies' bench exploded in celebration of the apparent win.
But then Washington missed four consecutive shots, three of them layups banged too hard off the glass. Kingma committed one of the Huskies' 17 turnovers. Davis missed two free throws with 48 seconds left. Wetmore missed the front end of a one-and-one chance with 18 seconds to go and UW up 65-64.
All that allowed Seattle U. a final chance. The Redhawks' Sylvia Shephard airballed a 3-point try with 7 seconds left. A scramble for the loose ball beneath the basket resulted in officials calling Davis for a foul on Daidra Brown of Seattle U. with 4.5 seconds left.
Brown missed the first free throw but made the second to tie the game at 65. Davis got the ensuing inbounds pass but had time to dribble only to halfcourt. Her desperation shot fell far short, forcing the extra period.
The Huskies (2-0), who won their opener Friday against Saint Mary's on a basket by Davis with 5 seconds remaining, next head to Long Beach State to play the 49ers Sunday at 2 p.m.
Kacie Sowell had 22 points and 14 rebounds for Seattle U. (0-2), which out-rebounded UW by a whopping 59-36. But 25 Redhawks turnovers helped keep Washington in front.
"It proved to us we have some things to work on," Davis said. "In order to make it in the Pac-12 we can't get out-rebounded like that."
McGuff was more blunt about his Huskies allowing 47 offensive rebounds and being dominated 119-70 on the glass through the season's first two games.
"I'm (ticked) off. It makes me want to pull my hair out," the already tightly-shorn McGuff said. "It's not Seattle U has a bunch 6-5 and 6-6 players. They were just playing harder ... That's it. End of story."
But, as McGuff told his team in the locker room, it's sure better to learn lessons in victory than in defeat.
Asked what rebounding drills might await the Huskies in the coming days, Kingma rolled her eyes and said, "I don't even want to know."
McGuff often stomped his foot on the floor in dismay over the many open shots his defense allowed the Redhawks, in man-to-man and zone sets alike. Defensive lapses allowed Seattle U. to briefly take leads of 38-37 and 42-41 early in the second half.
Each time, Kingma answered with a 3-pointer.
The Huskies were allowing Seattle U. to hang around in a 55-50 game with 6 minutes left when Kingma went behind a double screen and hit a third 3-pointer. That put the Huskies up 58-50. Then Kingma bounced a pass that Wetmore took to the foul line for a jumper with 4 seconds left on that shot clock. UW led 60-50 with 5 minutes left.
Yet UW allowed repeated offensive rebounds and thus Seattle U back into the game. The Huskies began the game rushed inside offensively then slow and out of place on defense. They missed 15 of their first 21 shots and found themselves down by eight after just 7 minutes.
But the Redhawks committed 17 turnovers in the first half alone, a large reason Washington led 32-27 at halftime.
Kingma was 2 for 7 from the field and 0 for 4 from 3-point range then.
She was 6 for 11 overall and 5 for 7 from bonus range from then on.
"My legs feel great," she said, still beaming. "That's a credit to all that work I did for the last year."