Huskies rally to top Oregon in tourney opener

SEATTLE — Summing up her team’s first game in the Pacific-12 Conference women’s basketball tournament, Washington sophomore Jazmine Williams said, “the first half, we just started off a little slow.”

Before Williams could continue, Huskies coach Kevin McGuff interrupted, sarcastically asking, “Just a little?”

OK, so the Huskies struggled a lot, but when the first day of the tournament looked like it was going to end with a snoozer, and in front of the day’s biggest crowd, no less, Washington staged a furious comeback that turned the last game of the day at KeyArena into the best one.

After trailing Oregon by 22 points in the first half, and as many as 13 in the second half, Washington came back for an improbable 69-62 victory.

And even as the game got out of hand early, the Huskies remained calm as senior captain Kristi Kingma told her teammates not to panic, and despite the dire circumstances, they listened.

“All Kristi was saying was, ‘It’s OK, we’re fine. Down 22? We’re fine,’ said sophomore guard Jazmine Williams, who scored a game-high 28 points, 19 of which came in the second half.

“I believed Kristi. When you get down like that, you don’t ever want to think, ‘Oh no, we’re done,’ and I don’t think for a second any of us thought that.”

With Seattle hosting the Pac-12 tournament for the first time, the Huskies didn’t want to waste a chance to play conference tournament games in their own back yard. But early on that’s exactly the direction things were heading, and it looked like the Ducks were going to bury the Huskies in front of a very pro-Washington crowd.

Behind 10 first-half points from Cascade High School grad Danielle Love, the Ducks led by 11 points at the break, and that was after Washington finished the half strong to make what was once a 22-point deficit slightly more manageable.

“When you get down like that, the most important thing is to make sure that we understand there’s no 20-point play,” Washington coach Kevin McGuff said. “We have to go possession by possession. When we got down, you saw us rushing shots on offense. It’s like we were trying to get it all back at once, but once we settled in, (we) got them believing. Just possession by possession playing great defense, finish it with rebounds, then come aggressively in transition to the offensive end, then we got ourselves going.

“The end of the first (half) was critically important because we started to finally believe that if we kept going the way we were going, we’d win the game.”

Having a defacto home game made a difference as the Huskies slowly clawed their way back into the game.

“Having as many Washington fan as we had here was a big part of us gaining that momentum there late in the first half,” McGuff said. “… Once we started to come back, I could really feel the energy in the building. I thought that was a big deal for our players.”

Even so, Oregon opened the half looking like it would stay in control, and extended the lead to 13 points at one point, but then the shots finally started falling for Washington. Sparked by a Talia Walton three-pointer, the Huskies went on to outscore the Ducks 23-9 over an eight-minute span, finally taking the lead on a pair of Kristi Kingma free throws.

The game remained close the rest of the way until Walton hit a dagger of a 3-pointer with 1:10 remaining to give the Huskies a six-point lead. Walton finished the game with 19 points 12 of which came in the second half following a rough first half in which she hit just three of 12 shots.

“That’s the great thing about Talia, she has a very short memory,” McGuff said. “… That was the shot that kind of put the nail in the coffin for them.”

Washington (20-10) plays Colorado (24-5) tonight at 8:30 p.m.

Washington St. 48, Arizona St. 41

SEATTLE — Lia Galdeira scored 17 points, Dawnyelle Awa added 10 and Washington State beat Arizona State in the opening round of the Pac-12 Conference tournament.

Galdeira was 7 of 15 from the floor for the eighth-seeded Cougars (11-19), who moved on to face No. 1 seed and fourth-ranked Stanford on Friday.

Janae Fulcher led the No. 9 seed Sun Devils (13-18) with 20 points. Promise Amukamara grabbed 14 rebounds but was just 1 of 12 shooting, part of a 29 percent team effort for ASU.

The Sun Devils led 18-13 at halftime, but the Cougars rallied in the second half, going ahead for good, 29-27, on Sage Romberg’s jumper with 14:58 left and building on the lead from there.

Washington State coach June Daugherty missed the game with acute appendicitis. The school said Daugherty was having surgery Thursday evening and was expected to be discharged Friday morning.

USC 64, Oregon St. 57

SEATTLE — Ariya Cook scored 17 points and Cassie Harberts had 16 points and 14 rebounds Thursday to lead seventh-seeded Southern California to a victory over 10th-seeded Oregon State in the first round of the Pac-12 women’s tournament at KeyArena.

Christina Marinacci added 13 points for the Trojans (11-19), who advanced to the quarterfinals where they play No. 5 California, the Pac-12 co-champion, on Friday.

USC was 35-of-46 from the free-throw line. Oregon State was 7-of-12. That helped the Trojans overcome 29-percent shooting. The Beavers made 36 percent of their outside shots, including 44 percent from 3-point range.

Ali Gibson scored 13 points to lead the Beavers (10-21). Mollee Schwegler scored 12 points on four 3-pointers, and Jamie Weisner and Alyssa Martin scored 10 apiece for Oregon State.

Utah 66, Arizona 48

SEATTLE — Michelle Plouffe had 24 points and nine rebounds to help Utah beat Arizona 66-48 in the first round of the Pac-12 women’s tournament.

Plouffe had five 3-pointers for the sixth-seeded Utes (18-12), who will meet No. 14 UCLA, the third seed, in the tournament quarterfinals on Friday.

Taryn Wicijowski scored 14 points and Iwalani Rodrigues finished with 10 points for Utah. The Utes, who committed just five turnovers on Thursday, have won eight of their last 11 games.

Davellyn White scored 23 points — 17 in the first half — and also had eight rebounds and six assists to lead the Wildcats (12-18). Arizona, the 11th seed, lost its last five games but did win both games against Utah in the Pac-12 regular season.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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