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Originally published Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 8:02 PM

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Washington women benefit from improved play of junior guard Mercedes Wetmore

The Huskies are on a 7-1 run and a big reason is the play of Mercedes Wetmore, a 5-foot-8 junior guard from Auburn-Riverside who is growing more confident.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Friday

UW women @ Oregon, 7 p.m.

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Washington guard Mercedes Wetmore has managed to change her game in a matter of the past eight games.

For two seasons, Wetmore often flung three-pointers, hoping they'd drop, or drove down the lane, hoping to draw a foul. Too many times the offensive decisions didn't work out — she shot just 31 percent as a sophomore starter last season.

Wetmore's change in mindset was clear Sunday against USC. The Huskies trailed 56-55 with four minutes remaining in a game that had been a struggle for her offensively. Wetmore drove and rose for a shot, with a defender in her face. Instead of shooting, Wetmore spotted teammate Aminah Williams under the basket. The dump pass was made, Williams scored and UW went on to win, 61-58.

"As much as anybody on our team, Mercedes takes pride in getting other people shots and moving the ball," second-year UW coach Kevin McGuff said. "We're at our best when she plays aggressively, yet finds people.

"Sunday, when she drove it in there and dumped it off to Aminah, that was a really big basket for us. She's done a lot of that in the past month or so. That's been part of the reason our offense has kind of gone to another level."

True, Washington shot just 33.6 percent as it split games with No. 15 UCLA and USC last weekend. But McGuff, whose team lost by just four points to the Bruins, liked the quality of shots.

During UW's current 7-1 run, Wetmore has 41 assists and 10 turnovers, an outstanding ratio. Twice she has had no turnovers.

The Huskies (17-6, 9-3 Pac-12) play Oregon (3-21, 1-11) in a rematch at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday.

"I've really seen her progress," said sophomore point guard Jazmine Davis of Wetmore, a 5-foot-8 junior who played at Auburn Riverside High School. "She's a lot more confident when she takes it to the basket, and you can see it in how she moves her body. She's trying to incorporate everything she has in her drive. And I like how she keeps her head up the whole time, even if she misses a pass."

As Davis recovered from a concussion, Wetmore ran the team in her place against the Oregon schools. Wetmore finished the weekend with 14 assists and one turnover, not missing a minute in a regulation win against Oregon or in an overtime victory over Oregon State.

"I'm just trying to play within myself and make the right decisions," Wetmore said. "I'm just trying to win and have fun out there."

Note

• Junior walk-on Kassia Fortier injured her shoulder during practice and is doubtful for UW's next two games.

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or jevans@seattletimes.com.

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