HOUSTON – The Huskies got double-digit scoring efforts from three players and defeated the Houston Cougars, 66-55, on Wednesday night at Hofheinz Pavilion in Houston, as the Huskies played their first game in 15 days.
Freshman Kelsey Plum led the Huskies (2-2) with 19 points, junior Jazmine Davis had 14 points, and sophomore Talia Walton turned in a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Huskies out-rebounded the Cougars, 50-39.
“When you go on a road trip, especially after a long break, you don’t whether you’re rested or rusted,” head coach Mike Neighbors said. “We looked rusted to start, but the fact that we were rested was what allowed us to hang in there.”
The Cougars (3-5) held an 8-point lead with just under 9 minutes to play in the opening period, but the Huskies clamped down on defense to get back into the game.
With 4:27 remaining in the first period, sophomore Mathilde Gilling drew a foul and knocked down a pair of free-throws. It pulled the Huskies with one, 28-27, for the first time since a Davis jumper with 16:58 to play in the first half.
Davis forced a turnover on the following possession, collected the loose ball and got an easy lay-up to give the Huskies the lead, 29-28.
On the next Houston possession, senior Mercedes Wetmore blocked the Cougars shot, allowing Davis to pick up the loose ball and get another lay-up to give the Huskies a 31-28 lead with 3:45 to play in opening period.
“It’s been a really big focal point for us,” Walton said of the team’s defense. “We know we can’t reach our goals if we don’t buckle down on defense. We set a lot of high defensive goals. We worked really hard in practice to get everything right, so I think it paid off.”
After scoring just two points in the first period, Walton found her shooting stroke in the 2nd half, connecting on 3-of-5 three-point attempts and scoring 11 consecutive points at one points. Walton led the Huskies on a 13-5 run over 5 minutes to give the Huskies a 46-39 lead midway through the 2nd half.
“I was definitely in a rhythm,” Walton said. “I just wanted to be there for my team. Houston was playing us really tough. We had to just keep making shots and keep moving the ball. My teammates kept finding me open, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t let them down.”
Despite Houston’s length and athleticism, the Huskies out-rebounded their opponent for the second straight game, after pulling down 48 rebounds against Seattle U on Nov. 19 to the Redhawks’ 38. Junior Aminah Williams led the Huskies with 13 rebounds.
“They were more athletic than us and they were bigger than us at almost every position, and for us to out-rebound them by 11, that just shows you that it was gutty and it was gritty,” Neighbors said. “It was a team-rebounding effort.”
Freshman Chantel Osahor made her collegiate debut for the Huskies. Osahor scored two points and collected 4 rebounds.
The Huskies are now 5-0 all-time vs. Houston, with their most recent win before tonight coming on Dec. 10, 2011 by a final score of 85-60.
The Huskies will continue their two-game road trip through Texas against No. 23 Texas A&M on Saturday, Dec. 7 with a 5:00 p.m. PT tip-off.