Huskies Exhale After Tense Win Over Washington State
Feb. 26, 2012
SEATTLE - It was a game marred at times by technical fouls, a little trash talk and some pushing and shoving. Yet for the 34th time in a row, the Huskies were able to make the key plays down the stretch to squeeze out a victory over their rivals.
Regina Rogers and Jazmine Davis scored 21 points apiece to lead Washington to a 60-56 win over Washington State on Sunday. The duo allowed the Huskies to stave off several Cougars chargers, including a frantic final minute that was fraught with tense moments.
For first-year coach Kevin McGuff, now 2-0 in Apple Cup games, the win was a testament to his players. The Huskies understood the Cougars would come to Seattle with a manic bent on ending the streak, and WSU did its part, out-hustling the hosts to rebounds and loose balls.
"I'm proud of our players making enough plays down the stretch to get the win," McGuff said. "They knew Washington State would play really hard. (The Cougars) came in really prepared, and overall it was a good team win for us."
With the win, the Huskies secured a plus-500 regular season (15-11, 7-9) for the first time since 2007-08. Washington State fell to 10-18, 4-12 in the Pac-12. Washington is now firmly in seventh place in the league, and hosts the Los Angeles schools next weekend to close out the Pac-12.
Brandi Thomas led the Cougars with 15 points, in addition to pulling down six rebounds. The Cougars made just 28.8 percent as a team, thanks to a Huskies' defense that contested perimeter shots and prevented drives to the basket. WSU leading scorer Jazmine Perkins went 0 for 9 from the floor, struggling to find open space against the on-ball defense of Charmaine Barlow.
The Huskies led by nine at halftime, and pushed the advantage to 14 by the 18:00-minute mark of the second half. Washington State clawed back on the strength of offensive rebounds, along with a feisty attitude that eventually led to technicals issued to both teams' benches.
What it boils down to is that WSU did not have an answer for Rogers, who was honored after the game with a ceremonial ball for becoming the 21st player in Husky history in the 1,000-point club. Whether it was man or zone, Rogers was able to score at will down low, fouling out opposing center Carly Noyes in the process. Rogers did all this while battling a virus that prevented her from practicing all week, in addition to some troubles holding on to her pregame meal. Rogers battled through the adversity, telling the media corps after the game that playing sick is a mental game a player has to win.
McGuff agreed, and credited his guards for making it priority No. 1 to look for her underneath the rim.
"Overall, I thought we did a good job of finding her and putting her in good position to score," McGuff said.
Davis added a series of big baskets down the stretch, and hit a handful of free throws that prevented the Cougars from making it a one-possession game late. Rogers secured the victory when she secured an errant April Cook three, holding the ball high over her head as time expired.
Following the game, McGuff said he didn't put too much importance on the streak, which is the second-longest in the Pac-12 Conference behind Stanford's dominance over WSU (a team it has never lost to). The game does carry some importance to the Husky players, particularly the seniors who end their careers without a loss to their rivals from the Palouse.
"Home or away, it's always a very emotional game," Barlow said. "And I think this game tops all of them."