LAS VEGAS – Washington (5-3) built a big lead and then hung on to defeat Louisiana-Monroe (4-6), 81-77, on Thursday afternoon in their first game of the Duel in the Desert. Jazmine Davis was sensational for the Huskies, scoring 30 points to lead all scorers.
The Dawgs fell behind by double-digits in the opening minutes, but responded to build a double-digit lead of their own. Davis connected on three 3-pointers to bring the Dawgs back, but then was forced to the bench after picking up her third foul.
Fouls would be a theme as the Dawgs struggled with foul trouble due to a short bench. Washington was forced into a short bench with Chantel Osahor (foot) and Heather Corral (knee) out and Mathilde Gilling unable to play because of the flu.
Despite Davis going out just 11 minutes into the first half, the Dawgs held the lead going into the break, 43-30. Washington dominated the glass in the opening period, 30-14, led by Aminah Williams who had nine boards at the half. Kelsey Plum scored 13 points in the half, including 8-8 from the foul line.
Washington continued to extend the lead in the second half, leading by 16, 64-48, with 11:28 to play. However, foul trouble became an issue when Katie Collier picked up two quick ones, including a questionable call when she appeared to snatch a rebound. Moments later, Davis picked up her fourth and the Dawgs were forced to play the five on the floor for extended minutes.
After a ULM run brought the lead to eight, Washington again extended and led by 13 with 7:13 to play after Aminah Williams scored in the paint.
From there, the Warhawks reeled off a 12-0 run to get within a single point. Undeterred the Huskies fought back and regained a four-point edge after a three-point play from Plum. She got free and drove to the left to score and then made her ninth consecutive free throw of the game to give the Dawgs some breathing room.
Louisiana-Monroe would cut the lead to two, but Davis knocked down her sixth and final 3-pointer of the game and followed that up with a breakaway layup on a Plum steal. In the final seconds Davis drained two clutch free throws to seal the victory for the Dawgs. It was a season-best 30 points for the junior guard who was 10-15 from the field, 6-9 from 3-point range and 4-4 from the foul line.
Davis led four players in double figures that also included Plum with 18 points and Williams and Walton with 10 apiece. Both Williams and Walton finished with double-doubles, including a career-high tying 14 rebounds from Walton.
Mercedes Wetmore led the Dawgs with six assists, while chipping in four steals. Collier added eight points and four rebounds off the bench, while transfer Alexus Atchley played key minutes down the stretch with the Huskies battling foul trouble.
For the game, Washington had a 45-34 edge on the glass, while making 21-25 free throws, to just 8-10 for ULM.
Washington will be right back at it on Friday with a big game against DePaul (7-3) at 2:30 p.m. The Blue Demons began their tournament with a convincing win over Pittsburgh in the early game, 77-63.