By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Injuries and foul trouble left the University of Washington women’s basketball team short on able bodies Sunday afternoon.
The Huskies really only needed two.
Well, make that three.
After Kristi Kingma and Regina Rogers carried UW for most of the day — they combined to score 36 of the Huskies’ 51 points — junior post Mollie Williams overcame an injury and an 0-for-9 shooting performance to hit her first field goal of the day when it mattered most.
Williams buried a 15-foot jumper from the baseline with 22 seconds left — the only basket by either team over the final five minutes — to give UW a 51-50 win over Portland State at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
The victory avenged last year’s one-point loss to PSU and gave the Huskies their first opening-game win since 2005.
“It’s a great feeling, a really great feeling,” said Williams, who had a career-high 13 rebounds and five assists but only two points on 1-of-10 shooting.
On an afternoon that felt like three games in one, the Huskies burst out to a big lead, saw Portland State generate all the momentum for a 20-minute span, and finally scored the only field goal of the final 5:20 to win the game.
Williams took a pass from Charmaine Barlow for a wide-open jumper on the baseline and hit nothing but net to give UW only its third lead of the entire second half.
“We always talk about: we have to have a short memory,” Williams said of missing her first nine shots before hitting the game-winner. “In basketball, things don’t always go your way, so you have to have a short memory.”
The Huskies had a bad shooting day throughout, particularly from the free-throw line. Despite making just 7 of 23 shots from the charity stripe _ including a Kingma miss on the front end of a 1-and-1 with two seconds left _ UW held on for the victory when Portland State couldn’t get off a shot at the buzzer.
Kingma and Rogers each scored 18 points, shooting 15-of-31 as a tandem. The rest of the Huskies combined to make just 5 of 25 shots.
“A nice 1-2 punch,” head coach Tia Jackson said. “I’m real proud of them.”
Kingma and Rogers kept the Huskies in the game despite a horrific 20 minutes that saw an early 14-0 lead turn into a seven-point deficit with 7:48 remaining. PSU scored just one field goal the rest of the way, while Kingma and Rogers combined for 12 of the game’s final 16 points.
The biggest came on a Kingma pass inside, resulting in an easy Rogers layup for UW’s first lead of the second half, at 47-46 with 6:05 remaining. The rail-thin Kingma celebrated the connection by sprinting into a midcourt chest bump with her decisively larger teammate.
“I was almost scared because we were both running full-speed at each other,” said Kingma, one of the few Huskies to come out of the game with a clean bill of health. “… I have fun out there. I don’t know if you can tell, but I have fun out there, and so do my teammates.”
The lead changed hands twice more before a pair of free throws by PSU’s Eryn Jones gave the Vikings a 50-49 lead with 4:34 remaining.
The only other basket came on Williams’s game-winner with 22 seconds left.
“A wide open 15-footer,” Jackson said of the decisive shot, “we’ll take that from anyone on our roster.”
The Huskies played without senior point guard Sarah Morton, who sprained her left ankle at practice earlier in the week and was in street clothes while wearing a walking boot Sunday. That forced Kingma into playing the point, and her shot took awhile to get going. After making just 2 of 8 shots in the first half, the junior from Mill Creek made 4 of 9 second-half shots — including two 3-pointers.
Rogers was UW’s most effective scorer, hitting 9 of 14 shots with a variety of crafty moves in the paint. She played just 24 minutes off the bench, partly because of a pre-existing hamstring injury.
At one point late in the first half, after UW saw its early 14-0 lead disappear because of a 25-11 run by the Vikings, both Rogers and Williams were laid out near the Huskies’ bench with injuries. Williams had taken an elbow to the ribs that knocked the wind out of her and seemed to affect her play. That forced starter Mackenzie Argens to re-enter the game after sitting out 16 consecutive minutes with two quick fouls.
PSU’s Jones, who played against Kingma’s Jackson teams while at Meadowdale High School, scored a basket with two seconds left in the first half to give the Vikings their first lead, at 27-25.
Portland State continued to dominate the early stages of the second half before UW got it together. After the Vikings pulled out to a 46-39 lead with 7:48 remaining, they went cold. PSU missed its final seven shots, including two free throws, and turned the ball over twice in the final 48 seconds. The Vikings’ last hope, after Kingma missed the front end of a 1-and-1, came up empty when a rebound and quick pass reached midcourt as time expired.
“We had some good looks,” Jones said. “It just came down to who had the ball at the end.”
The one who had the ball when it counted most was the one who was having the toughest time hitting shots. But Williams made the biggest one when it counted most.
“Either way, I’ve been working on my shot all summer, making sure to keep it high,” Williams said of taking the shot with the game on the line. “It’s like Ray Allen says: you have bad shooting days, but you have to keep shooting.”
Thankfully for the Huskies, Williams did.