Huskies avenge loss to Utah, reach WNIT quarterfinals
Amid the muck, Washington senior Mollie Williams' game was a thing of beauty. She popped off the bench for a third consecutive game to spark...
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Amid the muck, Washington senior Mollie Williams' game was a thing of beauty.
She popped off the bench for a third consecutive game to spark her team, helping UW defeat Utah 52-39 in the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament on Sunday. Williams finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds for her third double-double of the season.
Neither team shot better than 30 percent as the Huskies and Utes combined for 1-of-29 shooting from three-point range at Edmundson Pavilion.
It was an inside game and Williams led a 21-10 run to finish the opening half that gave UW a 28-17 lead at the break.
Only you couldn't tell UW was controlling the game by Williams' demeanor.
"They (teammates) always crack on me because when I play, I never show any type of emotion whatsoever," she said. "It is something I am working on; I know it's been four years. But I'm the type of person where I do it and go on to the next thing."
Washington's run in the WNIT has become a Pac-12 payback trail. The Huskies (19-13) will face Oregon State in the third round at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Corvallis. The site and time is determined by WNIT bidding.
The Beavers swept the Huskies during the conference regular season en route to a fifth-place finish. OSU (20-12) defeated Saint Mary's 56-41 in its second-round WNIT matchup Saturday.
"It's revenge man," UW senior guard Charmaine Barlow said with a smile while flexing her muscles. "We're ready to play. We go down there and play at their house, so that's going to give them home-court advantage, but we're more focused. The focus that we (have) at home will hopefully get the same results."
Sunday's matinee before 1,022 fans had a tinge of payback since UW senior Regina Rogers was unable to play in the second half of the regular-season loss after suffering a hamstring injury.
Utah coach Anthony Levrets joked that original game set women's basketball back a few years. As Rogers, Washington's leading scorer (16.7) sat, Utah won 49-36 and the teams combined for the lowest point total in a UW game since 1975.
Senior guard Janita Badon's 16 points led Utah in that January win, but she has an injured knee and didn't play Sunday. The Utes struggled offensively against UW's defense, shooting 24.6 percent from the game. UW was not much better at 28.1 percent.
"Regina draws a lot of attention, and for her to get all of that attention leaves us open," said Williams, who's averaging 11.6 points in her past three games. "If we sit there and take advantage of it, it leaves her more wide open. It's more of a system to make sure we're all working together to make sure everybody gets to where they need to get. That's pretty much it."
Rogers scored eight of her team-high 13 points in the second half. The Utes closed to 35-27 with 12:34 remaining, but Williams hit a jumper and sophomore Kellie McCann-Smith made her first free throw since December to help UW get back in charge.
Sophomore forward Michelle Plouffe, whose sister Andrea was a star post at Washington, led Utah with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Taryn Wicijowski added 15 points and 11 boards.
"In the early-goings there, I thought we were going down the same path," said coach Kevin McGuff, thinking back to the earlier loss to Utah. "It's nice to see we can still win a game when we're not as good on offense as we normally are."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @JaydaEvans.
Percentages: FG .246, FT .714. Three-point goals: 1-22 (Plouffe 1-9, Rodrigues 0-5, Wilson 0-6, Messer 0-1, Sitivi 0-1). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 2 (Wicijowski 2). Turnovers: 13 (Wicijowski, Plouffe 4, Rodrigues 4, Wilson 4). Steals: 3 (Rodrigues, Wilson, Messer).
Attendance: 1,022. Officials: Michol Murray, Jay Schumaker, Tyler Trimble.