By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — For most of their first intra-city game as this town’s official “other” Division I program, the Seattle University Redhawks proved they could play with the big girls.
Through a horrendous first half that included 17 turnovers and a purple rain of 3-pointers to start the second half, through five missed shots in the final 39 seconds of regulation and a near-fatal lane violation with 18.6 seconds on the clock, the Redhawks were still there.
Even when the Goliaths from north on Interstate-5 took a four-point lead with 16.5 seconds to play in overtime, Seattle U. refused to go away.
Not until Ashley Ward’s 3-pointer from the wing got blocked and fell short of the rim was the University of Washington women’s basketball team finally able to breathe easy, having survived Seattle U. 77-75 at KeyArena.
“It’s definitely something that gives both of us a boost,” said UW point guard Jazmine Davis, who scored 21 points, played all 45 minutes on a bad ankle, and had what amounted to the game-winning layup and free throw with 16.5 seconds to go in overtime.
“They almost got us.”
One day earlier, it was Davis who was saying that the so-called intra-city rivalry wasn’t really a rivalry at all, pointing toward UW’s eight-game winning streak over the Redhawks as proof. But after Seattle U. gave the Huskies (2-0) everything they could handle, UW was singing a different tune late Wednesday night.
“Probably about 10 times, I thought it was over,” said UW senior Kristi Kingma, who scored five of her team-high 22 points while adding a key assist during UW’s 12-10 advantage in the five-minute overtime.
“I thought when we took a 10-point lead with (five) minutes to go (in regulation), I thought it was over. Not that I thought they couldn’t come back, but I kind of thought at one point that they might just give up.
“Credit to them, they kept fighting until the end. I thought it was over a few times, and I think my body thought it was over a few times more than that. It just feels so good to get the victory.”
Four Huskies played 40 or more minutes in the victory, as injuries limited the team to just seven healthy scholarship players. Coach Kevin McGuff expressed multiple times after the game how pleased he was with UW’s mental toughness down the stretch, but he also was pretty candid about the Redhawks’ 59-36 rebounding advantage.
“It (ticks) me off,” said McGuff, whose team gave up as many Seattle U. offensive rebounds (24) as the Huskies had defensive boards. “It makes me want to pull my hair out. It’s not like Seattle U. has a bunch of 6-5 and 6-6 players; they were just playing harder and rebounding better. That’s it — end of story.”
The frustration reached a boiling point at the end of regulation, when the Redhawks (0-2) followed four consecutive misses with offensive rebounds. Three of them came on a single possession, which eventually resulted in a Sylvia Shephard 3-pointer that cut UW’s four-point lead to 65-64 with 19.6 seconds remaining.
After UW’s Mercedes Wetmore missed two free throws, Kingma came up with a huge blocked shot at the other end, only to give up yet another rebound under the basket. The Redhawks’ Daidra Brown came up with the ball and got fouled with 4.5 seconds to play and UW leading by one.
Brown missed the first free throw, hit the second, and after Davis missed a halfcourt shot at the buzzer, the game went to overtime.
UW, which made five of its first eight 3-pointers in the second half and hit 12 of 30 for the game, went ahead when Kingma made her fifth 3-pointer of the game two minutes into overtime. The Huskies finished it off with Davis’ and-one three-point play with 16.5 seconds remaining.
Afterward, Davis said the game “proved to us that we still have things to work on. In order to make it in the Pac-12 (Conference), we can’t get out-rebounded like that.”
The Redhawks weren’t exactly basking in their performance, but they were upbeat about playing UW to the regulation buzzer and beyond.
“They’re good,” Seattle U. coach Joan Bonvicini said of the Huskies, “but I feel like we are, too. … We’re right there. We’re knocking on the door. Now we just have to knock the door down.”
Seattle U. associate head coach Kristen O’Neill, the former UW and Meadowdale High School star, said she was proud of both programs Wednesday night.
“As far as the rivalry, we’re just trying to get better,” she said. “We think it’s wonderful that we can have two good Division I teams in Seattle, and anyone that came out (Wednesday) got to see an exciting game. So, I’m excited and hopeful for the future. It will be (an) exciting (rivalry) for the years to come.”