Huskies Grind Down Utah, Advance To Round 3 Of WNIT
March 18, 2012
SEATTLE - Five minutes into the game, all Kevin McGuff could think about was, "Oh boy, here we go again."
The Husky coach had already envisioned a replay of Washington's low-scoring regular-season game with Utah, and the WNIT redux was unfolding in similar fashion. Only this time, the Huskies made the necessary plays down the stretch to survive and advance. Next up for the Huskies is another Pac-12 rematch, this time on the road as the team will bus down to Corvallis to face Oregon State in the WNIT's third round.
Regina Rogers led UW with 13 points as the Huskies (19-13) outlasted the Utes, 52-39, at Alaska Airlines Arena on Sunday afternoon. Mollie Williams added 12 points and 12 rebounds for her third career double-double. Yet neither Husky shot the ball particularly well against the Utes' tall, physical frontline.
"I thought (Utah) played really well defensively," McGuff said. "They just couldn't generate enough offense. And it's unfortunate because they've had some key injuries late in the year."
The Utes were without Janita Badon, a name familiar to Husky fans because she was the point guard who hit the improbable, game-tying triple in the final seconds of the first meeting. That led to a 49-36 win for the Utes in overtime, one of the more heartbreaking losses the Huskies have experienced in recent memory. This time around, Utah (16-16) was limited offensively to forwards Michelle Plouffe and Taryn Wicijowski, who scored 16 and 15 points, respectively. The only other Ute to score was Iwalani Rodrigues, who was pressured all afternoon by Charmaine Barlow and made just 4 of 17 shots to finish with eight points.
For Washington, this is the furthest it has advanced in postseason since making a third-round WNIT run in 2002. The 19th win the by the Huskies marks the most since the 2006 season, another feather in the cap for McGuff as he looks to rebuild the program.
McGuff credited his program's seniors for accepting the challenge from the onset. And he knows they'll be ready to face the Beavers for the third time this season.
"This time of year, we're just happy to be playing," McGuff said. "We're trying to embrace the opportunity to play in postseason and our players have done a terrific job with that so far."
In order to advance, the Huskies needed to grind out a win against an opponent where style points are hard to come by. Washington shot just 28 percent on the afternoon, its second-lowest total on the season. And for only the second game this year, the Huskies did not make a three pointer. Jazmine Davis, who was sensational against Cal Poly in the first round, made just 2 of 10 shots to finish with nine points.
On defense, the Huskies made suffocated the Utes for 40 minutes. And while Wicijowski and Plouffe combined for 31 points, they shot 10 of 29 from the field. Utah as a team made just 1 of 22 threes, 4.5 percent of its attempts.
The Huskies will leave Monday to head to the Willamette Valley, making for a quick turnaround. McGuff didn't seem too concerned, though, with the travel logistics between Round 2 and Round 3. He's just happy to be playing.
"That's what it's about this year," McGuff said. "So we'll put a game plan together and truck it on down to Corvallis."