SEATTLE – After 12 years as a College Assistant and two before that as a Director of Ops, Mike Neighbors earned his first win as a head coach Tuesday night when the Dawgs defeated Seattle U., 82-60. It was the first win of the season for Washington (1-2), who used a second-half surge to defeat the Redhawks (0-3).
It was the first win as a head coach for Neighbors since he was a high school coach back in Arkansas in 1999. 14 years later he is the Huskies find, leading the Dawgs to what they hope will be the first of many victories in purple and gold.
Washington scored 52 points in the second half to blow out Seattle U. after leading by just four at the break. The Dawgs also played improved defense holding the Redhawks to just 31.9 percent shooting after allowing 91 points in each of the first two games.
“We’ve made adjustments, but really the kids buckled down and trusted each other a lot,” said Neighbors. “We had a talk about that. We didn’t change anything schematically. Our technique was better and I thought we were more disciplined.”
Washington struggled out of the gate, turning the ball over four of the first five possessions. The Dawgs stayed in it by holding the Redhawks to just 26 percent shooting in the first half.
After the break, Washington opened with an 18-6 run to take a big lead. Jazmine Davis started it off with a jumper, but then Kelsey Plum took over, scoring 18 of her 22 points after the half. The freshman guard scored 20+ for the third time in as many games to begin her collegiate career.
Davis finished with a well-rounded game, scoring 18 points on 6-11 shooting, while adding eight assists and six rebounds. Also in double figures was Aminah Williams who finished with 15 points, making her first six shots. Plum, Davis and Mercedes Wetmore continually found Williams open under the hoop for layups, but the junior forward also added a 3-pointer late in the game that sealed the victory.
The Dawgs shot 49 percent (30-61) for the game, including 8-22 from 3-point range. Washington also outrebounded an opponent for the first time, pulling down 48 boards to just 38 for Seattle U. Williams led the Huskies with nine rebounds, while Talia Walton and Heather Corral joined Davis with six boards.
It is a quality win for Washington as Seattle U. won the regular season title in the WAC last season and was picked to do so again this year.
"It was a really good win for us," said Neighbors. "We have a lot of respect for what they do over there. We hope they win the rest of them but we’re glad to get that one."
Washington now has a bit of a quirk to its schedule with two weeks off before its next game. Washington won’t play again until December 4 when it travels to Houston as part of a Texas two-step. The Dawgs will also play Texas A&M on December 7, before returning home to face Wisconsin on December 13 for the next game at Alaska Airlines Arena.