By Monica Lee
GoHuskies.com contributing writer
SEATTLE – The Dawgs got off to a slow start offensively against the University of Utah Utes Friday Jan. 17 at Alaska Airlines Arena. But they found their rhythm late in the first half to come back from an early 13-point deficit and break their three-game losing streak.
Utah’s sharp first half 3-point shooting led them to a 16-4 run over the first seven minutes of competition. Trailing 23-17, with five minutes remaining in the half, Jazmine Davis was issued a technical foul in the bustle of a personal foul called on Aminah Williams.
From that point, the Huskies turned the game around.
“We (just had) to buckle down,” Williams said. “They were just outplaying us. We weren’t getting through screens and (Michelle) Plouffe had two wide open threes at the top of the key. After that I think we knew, ‘OK, we need to buckle down,’ and that’s kind of when we got back in it.”
Defensively, the Dawgs didn’t allow Utah to score again for the remainder of the half and forced the Utes to turn the ball over eight times to UW’s four. They also cut Utah’s lead to just two points to head into halftime, 25-23.
“We just talked about a little bit of a sense of urgency,” head coach Mike Neighbors said about the turning point for the Huskies. “Early in that first half, it just didn’t seem like we had a sense of the urgency. We were getting hit by screens and we were running right into it. We just didn’t have that hop. And then all of a sudden we got it.”
Although the Huskies struggled from the field, they were perfect from the free throw line in the first half, sinking 10 of 10 free throws and shooting 6-10 in the second half. Utah shot 9-25 percent from behind the 3-point line, five of which were in the first half.
Washington continued to keep up the pace starting the second half by quickly taking control of the game. Freshman Kelsey Plum immediately scored three points to seize the first Husky lead of the night.
The Dawgs’ largest lead of eight points at 8:15 was whittled down to just one point with 25.4 seconds of regulation remaining. Walton added a free throw to UW’s slight lead to put them at a 47-45 advantage.
Utah’s Emily Potter took the game into overtime with a put back off of Plouffe’s missed layup that the Huskies were unable to counter in the last 5.7 seconds.
Going into overtime tied at 47-47, Davis, Walton, and Plum scored field goals, while Williams focused on keeping Plouffe, the leading scorer of the night, from scoring a last minute basket.
“On the last play, we were really debating what to do defensively,” Neighbors said. “Aminah had been locking Plouffe down so much, I just really went with my gut and hoped that she would at least try to be able to force her into a tough shot. I’ll be danged if she didn’t just go out there, tip it twice, and just completely blow the play up.”
The speedy Husky defense kept the Utes to a 26.2 field goal percentage and 36.0 percent from the 3-point line to win the game 53-52.
Williams finished with the most rebounds of the night, pulling down 15. Every Husky that played in the game had at least one rebound and two points each. Davis and Plum both scored a team-high 14 points while Walton added nine points and Mercedes Wetmore finished with seven.
Washington will host No. 21 Colorado at Alaska Airlines Arena on Sunday, Jan. 19. Tip off is set for 4 p.m. PST.