SEATTLE – The way the University of Washington women’s basketball team was misfiring during the first half of Saturday’s game against Cal, head coach June Daugherty might well have considered sending her squad to a shooting clinic.
The Huskies didn’t just attend a clinic in the second half; they conducted one.
After a dismal 12-for-30 shooting performance that left the UW trailing by three points at halftime, the Huskies shot 68 percent from the field in the second half en route to an 80-76 win over the Golden Bears. Washington hit 14 of its first 17 shots after halftime in what may have been its most impressive shooting stretch of the season.
“I didn’t even realize we shot so well in the second half,” Washington junior and Arlington High School product Kayla Burt said after hearing the statistics. “But that was a big turnaround for us.
“We kind of had a sluggish first half, just kind of lackadaisical on offense. They were putting a lot of pressure on us, and we weren’t taking it too well. We came back in the second half and shot well, and that doesn’t hurt.”
The UW was pretty solid from the free-throw line, too, hitting 13 of 14 shots in the second half. The only blemish came with three seconds remaining, when Jill Bell intentionally missed the back end of a 1-and-1 after her first shot had given the Huskies a four-point lead.
The shooting turnaround saved what was shaping up to be a disastrous afternoon. Given the chance to fatten up on one of the Pac-10’s most downtrodden teams, the UW nearly walked out of Hec Edmundson with a case of indigestion. The Golden Bears, having lost their previous seven games, controlled the Huskies for most of the game.
But Washington’s hot second-half shooting – the Huskies shot 17-for-25 from the field – helped keep Cal from snapping its losing streak.
The UW trailed by as many as nine points early in the second half but rallied behind hot shooting and Bell’s 13 points. The Huskies scored 49 second-half points to rally from a forgettable first 20 minutes of play.
“Our team played well under pressure,” said Burt, who had 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds off the bench. “It would have easy to kind of buckle when we were down nine in the second half. But we just kept chipping away, we countered them, and we put the ball in the hole.”
After UW had fallen behind 71-69 on an Emmelie Geraedts layup with 3:56 to play in the game, Burt helped the Huskies take over down the stretch. She drove in for the tying layup, then made a nice pass to teammate Cameo Hicks for an easy basket and a 73-71 lead with 2:04 remaining.
Burt added four free throws, on four attempts, as UW made that lead hold up.
“I’m really proud of the poise we showed,” Washington coach June Daugherty said. “They made the runs, and we made the runs right back. We did it the way that we know how to do it, and that’s just fight hard defensively.”