By Monica Lee
GoHuskies.com Contributing Writer
SEATTLE— Washington was defeated by Oregon State, 77-57, in its last regular season game of the year at Alaska Airlines Arena. Mercedes Wetmore and Kassia Fortier were honored for their senior night immediately following the buzzer.
The Dawgs (16-11, 9-7 Pac-12) began the game with a battle, trading the lead with Oregon State (19-9, 11-5) four times over the first 10 minutes of regulation. However, the Beavers slowly pulled away, outscoring the Huskies 23-8 during the next 10 minutes.
“We were running defenses we hadn’t run since the first part of the year because they were just really, really in the flow and in a rhythm,” head coach Mike Neighbors said after the game. “That’s credit to them. We got outplayed, outcoached, out-prepared, out-everything – all those clichés coaches will say. But it was absolutely the truth.
“I still think we’re playing good basketball. We didn’t play good basketball today and we can’t let it affect us going down the road to next week and into the tournament.”
Davis scored 11 of Washington’s 25 first-half points and Plum added seven points. The Huskies struggled from the field with a 26.5 field goal percentage, including a disappointing 1-8 beyond the 3-point arc. They left the court down 42-25.
“(Wetmore) was saying, ‘we have to stay together. We have to stay together because that’s the only way we’re going to have a chance. Because if we start breaking apart and pointing fingers, it’s going to be a lot worse than it is,’” Davis said of the Huskies’ halftime inspiration.
“So that was one thing that we were focusing on. Who cares what the score was, let’s just stay together. We’re going to win together; we’re going to lose together. No matter what, we’re going to do this together.”
Oregon State’s quick passes, sharpshooting, and size advantage proved too much for the Washington defense as the Beavers opened the second half on an 18-4 run, increasing their lead to 60-29 with 14:45 left on the clock. This was the largest lead of the game.
“I’m sure for (Oregon State) the hoop felt like a big pool because they were just shooting so well,” Wetmore said. “Nights like that can happen for teams. We’ve felt that before on our end. It just wasn’t tonight for us. They’re a very good team.”
The Dawgs’ shooting percentage continued to suffer throughout the second half, while five Beavers entered double digits. Plum netted 12 of the Huskies’ 13 points in the last six minutes of game play. UW finished 19-60 from the field and 16-22 from the free throw line.
“We just weren’t doing the things that we usually do. We just didn’t do what we do,” a somber Davis said.
“It was just the little things. Our post players were fighting so hard and I gave up a drive. It was just little things where we lacked and that really ate us up because that’s a really good team. You got to give it to OSU, they knew how to hit those shots and they were hitting them. They knew how to run and execute very well and it was their night tonight.”
Wetmore was called out of the match with 1:59 remaining with zero points, three rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Despite her unusual lack of offensive presence, Husky fans gave a warm good-bye to the senior leader with a standing ovation.
“Although tonight wasn’t the storybook ending to the way a senior night would go, I’m honestly really happy and just so thankful to be here and be on this team,” Wetmore said.
“We still have two games left and if we get one of those big ones, our dreams can still happen this season.”
The Huskies will travel to the Bay Area Thursday, Feb. 27 in hopes of defeating No. 5 Stanford for the second time this season. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. PST at Maples Pavilion in Stanford, Calif.
“If there’s a silver lining,” Neighbors said of the frustrating loss, “I was able to rest those kids a lot down at the end of the stretch. I didn’t put Aminah (Williams) and Talia (Walton) back in just because of that and it gave our other kids a chance to play in some valuable minutes. We should be well rested with a quick turnaround going to the Bay.”
With a rested and healthy team, Wetmore and her teammates are anticipating the upcoming weekend and plan to rise to the occasion to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive.
“The way I see it is, the reason we even got back into the mix of things is because we beat Stanford,” the senior guard said. “And since we’re going down there for two more games, that gives us an opportunity to get right back in it again.
“If we were going down to play two other teams that aren’t even up in the standings, we would have really no chance (to make the NCAA tournament), except for the Pac-12 tournament. It’s nice to go down there knowing that we have so much to play for. Those teams are going to the (NCAA) tournament.”
“But, we have so much to play for.”