By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — The rain came down on a February day. The Seattle Mariners are in a rebuilding process. The NBA goes on without a team in Seattle.
And the University of Washington women’s basketball team handed it to the rival Washington State Cougars.
Some things never seem to change, including the landscape of college basketball in this state.
And so it was that the Huskies continued their dominance Sunday afternoon, beating WSU 60-56 for their 34th consecutive win in the cross-state rivalry.
“Every time we play them, it’s so emotional,” said UW senior Charmaine Barlow after the Huskies extended their 17-year-old winning streak with Sunday’s home win. “Whether we’re here or away, it’s always an emotional game — and I think this game tops all. … But to be undefeated against them feels good; it’s something I can hang my hat on.”
The Cougars (10-18 overall, 4-12 in the Pacific-12) trailed almost the entire afternoon but rallied to get within striking distance in the final two minutes. WSU, which fell behind by as many as 14 points in the second half, finally cut the lead to four with 44.5 seconds left, and again on a Brandi Thomas 3-pointer with 17.1 seconds to go.
But the Cougars could get no closer and found themselves, once again, on the wrong end of a rivalry game. That left WSU coach June Daugherty, who led the UW program from 1996 through the 2006-07 season but is now 0-10 against the Huskies, to shrug her shoulders while searching for an answer.
“I started it,” the former UW coach said of a streak that dates back to Feb. 1995, “and hopefully someday we’ll finish it.”
UW senior Regina Rogers overcame a virus to score 21 points for the Huskies, while freshman point guard Jazmine Davis bounced back from a horrific first half to score 21 of her own. Davis went 0-for-5 from the field in the first half but made 7-of-11 free throws after halftime, including six makes in the final six minutes.
WSU’s star guard had her own shooting problems, as senior Jazmine Perkins missed all eight of her field goal attempts and finished with just three points. UW’s Barlow was largely responsible for Perkins’s struggles.
“Guarding her, it’s always frustrating (to Perkins) when she doesn’t get what she wants,” Barlow said. “Me and her, we’re both emotional. So guarding her, I know exactly what to do. I know exactly how to get into her head because she’s so emotional.”
Perkins and fellow WSU guards Rosetta Adzasu, April Cook and Katie Grad shot a combined 1-of-25 from the field. The quartet went more than 39 minutes without a field goal, until Adzasu made a layup and free throw to pull the Cougars to within 57-53 with 44.5 seconds left.
Both teams struggled from the perimeter, shooting a combined 6-of-35 from 3-point range. All but 11 of UW’s 60 points came inside the paint or at the free-throw line.
Rogers carried the load for most of the afternoon, despite playing with a chest virus that she claims to have contacted from Davis, her teammate and close friend.
“We share a lot of things,” Rogers said of Davis after the game, “and she shared that with me.”
The illness didn’t slow down Rogers’s production, as she made 8-of-11 shots from the field and hit three of her final four free throws to help the Huskies hold off WSU in the final minutes.
“Maybe she needs to get sick more often,” WSU’s Daugherty said, “a 53-percent free-throw shooter making almost all of her free throws down the stretch.”
Rogers, who missed the previous meeting in Pullman because of a strained hamstring, added nine rebounds on a day when the Cougars out-rebounded UW 45-39. She played 34 minutes despite the illness, and at one point teammates Jeneva Anderson and Ashley Moore had to help prop her up during a second-half timeout.
“It was really difficult, especially at the beginning of the game,” Rogers said afterward. “The first time I came out, I threw up (into a garbage can) and came right back into the game. That was weird to me.”
For stretches of Sunday’s game, it was apparent that this was a matchup for state bragging rights — and not a battle of national powers. The two teams combined to go 7 of 30 from the field to start the game, with a combined 10 turnovers, through just over 10 minutes of play. The Huskies threw up two airballs on 3-point attempts in the first half, and at one point Davis followed a nifty steal with a missed open layup on the other end. There was even a tipped ball into the wrong basket, which happened when Rogers was fighting for a rebound under the WSU hoop.
But in this rivalry, it’s not so much the cleanest politician who wins the caucus as it is the least tainted.
And since 1995, UW has been good enough.
“It’ll end one day,” first-year Huskies coach Kevin McGuff said of the 17-year-old winning streak over UW’s cross-state rival. “I hope to be here a long time, so it’ll probably end on my watch. But I don’t put too much into (the streak). There’s nothing I can do about it. Certainly Washington State’s a big rival, and it’s great to get a win (Sunday), but I can’t tell you I put too much into the streak.”
In addition to extending the streak, the Huskies (15-11, 7-9) were able to cement their first winning record since 2007-08, when Daugherty led the program to 18 wins and a spot in the NCAA tournament. This year’s UW team still has a chance to earn a bid to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament but has two more home games and might need at least one win in the upcoming Pac-12 tournament to extend its season.
“I’m happy for (the players) that we’ve been able to experience a little bit of success,” said McGuff, whose team jumped out to a 14-5 lead Sunday and never trailed after that. “And hopefully, we still have more to come. They’ve really bought in from the beginning. And hopefully as we get to the end, a positive record will be a reflection of that hard work.”
Meanwhile, the Cougars — despite a solid start heading into conference play — are destined for another sub-.500 season. But Daugherty isn’t sulking in being on the less fortunate side of the rivalry now.
“I’m not going to walk around and pout and cry and stomp my feet,” said Daugherty, whose team has lost 11 of 12 games since Jan. 5. “I’m going to keep working with these kids because they continue to compete very hard. … (The WSU players) inspire me; they really do.”