By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Charmaine Barlow has plenty of numbers (2.5 points per game, 25.3 percent field-goal percentage, and a little over a turnover a game) that would belie her status as one of the most important players on the University of Washington women’s basketball team.
She also has somewhat similar statistics (10.0 points per game, 21.5 percent field-goal percentage, and 3.2 turnovers per game) that would support it.
The former are the UW senior’s offensive statistics as a full-time starter this season, while the latter represent the combined numbers put up by three of the Pacific-12 Conference’s most dynamic scorers — Colorado’s Chucky Jeffery, Arizona’s Davellyn Whyte and Washington State’s Jazmine Perkins — in games when Barlow was the primary defender on them. And it’s no coincidence that UW went 5-0 in those games.
“There are some really, really talented perimeter players in our league — really talented,” UW coach Kevin McGuff said. “To have someone that I feel like is going to challenge them to take tough shots and not get anything easy is big.”
Case-in-point came Sunday afternoon, when Barlow had a fairly typical offensive performance — she went scoreless while going 0-for-5 from the field — but may well have been the single biggest factor in UW’s 60-56 win over Washington State. The 5-foot-10 guard was largely responsible for an 0-for-9 shooting performance from Perkins, the Cougars’ leading scorer.
In the Huskies’ two-game sweep of WSU this season, Perkins went 1-for-19 from the field and scored a total of four points.
Having that kind of player in his starting lineup, despite all Barlow’s offensive limitations, has made McGuff’s job easier.
“Davellyn and Jazmine are two players that can absolutely win games for their team, and we went 4-0 against both of those teams,” McGuff said. “Davellyn and Jazmine, neither one of them played very well in those games — and I think Char had a lot to do with that.”
Barlow, who played on two state championship teams at Chief Sealth High School in West Seattle, has gotten used to her role as a defensive firecracker who is generally asked to remain silent on the other end of the floor. Those prep teams relied on Regina Rogers, a current UW teammate, current Oregon star Nia Jackson and recent UCLA forward Christina Nzekwe for offense.
“I scored some in high school, but being a role player on defense wasn’t really an issue for me,” Barlow said Tuesday. “I liked that. I wanted to be that person my coach could depend on to just say: ‘You have to stop that person.’”
McGuff said that Barlow’s natural emotion and effort, which he occasionally has to rein in, have been big reasons for her success as an on-ball defender.
“I would much rather have a player that I kind of have to hone in emotionally,” he said, “than one that I’m kind of prodding to c’mon-go-out-and-compete-and-play-hard. She’s just kind of my kind of kid; she really is.”
Barlow hasn’t hit double figures in scoring all season, and her career-high came when she “erupted” for 10 points against BYU in November of 2010. But she has become as vital a member of this year’s Huskies as top scorers Rogers and point guard Jazmine Davis.
“We can always depend on her to be there defensively,” said Rogers, who was a year ahead of Barlow at Chief Sealth but is now, like Barlow, part of the Huskies’ senior class. “She’s the person that, on the defensive end, tells us: ‘Do this, do that.’ And you always need somebody like that on your team.
“She’s not always there offensively, as people might say, but I feel like she does all the little things. And we need someone like that.”
Barlow has eagerly embraced her role as a defensive stopper, and the Huskies have been happy to have her.
“I’ve really put a lot of emphasis on us being a good defensive team,” McGuff said, “us being a really aggressive team, a team that plays with toughness and plays hard. I think that’s played into her strengths.
“She’s not as talented offensively as some other kids, but she’s really tried hard to help us establish a culture of defense and toughness and rebounding, which was really, really important to me in Year 1. So she’s been really, really important to our transition into this program.”
Rogers, who played through a virus in her lungs Sunday, said she was feeling better as of Tuesday. “I’m ready to play,” she said, “so that’s all that matters.” … With a pair of wins over USC and UCLA at home this week, the Huskies (15-11 overall, 7-9 in the Pac-12) could have a legitimate shot at finishing fifth in the conference. That would mark the program’s highest finish since 2007-08, when June Daugherty led the Huskies to their last NCAA tournament appearance.