By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — A University of Washington women’s basketball team that really needed a break finally got one recently.
Boy, did that turn out to be a disaster.
The rested Huskies actually sputtered out of the gates Saturday afternoon, despite a season-long 10-day layoff between games, and dug too deep a hole before surrendering 53-46 to UC Santa Barbara and losing momentum from a four-game winning streak.
While a 10-0 run early in the second half made this one look like a repeat of the Huskies’ last outing — a 59-58 win over San Diego State after overcoming an 18-point deficit — UW couldn’t overcome the slow start or 21.3 percent shooting. Go-to scorers Jazmine Davis (20 points) and Kristi Kingma (10) weren’t exactly on their game Saturday, but the rest of the Huskies combined to go 5-for-29 for 16 points in the team’s worst offensive performance of the season.
“We had really shown a lot of progress the last couple of games,” said coach Kevin McGuff, whose program was off to its best start in a decade, “and (Saturday) we took a step back.”
Rust overrode rest in the early going, and not even a thin bench ravaged by injuries could be blamed for the sluggish start. The Huskies missed their first eight shots, went on to miss their first 10 shots from 3-point range, and quickly fell into a 25-8 hole. Things bottomed out when Davis missed a breakaway layup and teammate Talia Walton missed the follow with 3:20 remaining.
After Kingma ended an 0-for-4 slump with a 3-pointer from the wing and added a free throw with 30 seconds left, UW went into halftime trailing 27-17 — and the Huskies were fortunate it was not a whole lot worse. A well-rested team looked worn down and lethargic from the opening tip.
“With the people we’ve been putting on the court, and the minutes they’ve played in their careers, we should get off to better starts,” a visibly frustrated McGuff said afterward. “And we’re not doing it.”
UW (6-2) rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to get within one point, with 91⁄2 minutes remaining, before UC Santa Barbara (4-5) scored nine unanswered points to open up another 10-point lead. From there, UW got out of its offense and tried to force too many drives to the basket, as evidenced by the 2-for-17 second-half shooting performance from inside the 3-point arc.
“When you get down, you’re trying to do anything you can,” said junior guard Mercedes Wetmore, who forced up more than a few shots during a 1-for-9 shooting performance.
For the second game in a row, UW’s Walton hit a 3-point basket in the closing seconds, but this time it didn’t matter. Her 23-footer from the top of the key with six seconds left accounted for the final points of Saturday’s game — a far cry from her game-winning 3 in the win over San Diego State 10 days earlier.
Walton finished with just six points on 2-of-14 shooting in the loss. Wetmore went 1-for-9 and missed her only 3-point shot.
Kingma scored 10 points despite 2-for-12 shooting. In her past two games, the former Jackson High School star is 3-for-19 from the field.
“I haven’t felt like I’ve shot it really well all year,” said Kingma, who is shooting 32 percent for the season after missing all of 2011-12 with a knee injury. “… Ultimately, I think it’s just confidence. I don’t necessarily think it’s a rest thing or the year off. It’s being confident that I can hit shots and that my teammates can hit shots.”
UW shot just 7-of-24 from 3-point range but was actually worse inside the arc. The Huskies made just 6 of 37 shots from 2-point distance, good for 16 percent.
It was a forgettable performance on several levels, and the Huskies are glad to get back on the court for something other than practice this afternoon. UW hosts Idaho at 1 p.m. in a rare back-to-back game.
“It’s definitely a blessing right now,” Kingma said. “Nobody wants to get out on the floor right now more than we do.”
Said Wetmore: “We just want to get back out and redeem ourselves.”