After taking a big step forward with a win over USC last week, Washington took a step back Thursday night, losing to Oregon State after building a 12-point lead early.
Today, when the Huskies play at Oregon, they hope to get momentum back on their side. Doing that will require a better 40-minute effort, coach Tia Jackson said.
In a season full of injuries, Washington felt the effects of playing short-handed on Thursday. Starting center Jess McCormack was unavailable with a concussion and Laura McLellan, who returned for the first time since having knee surgery, was able to play just 12 minutes.
The result, Jackson said, was a team that struggled to maintain a high-level of play through the second half.
“It looked like we ran out of gas a little bit, and Katelan [Redmon] got in foul trouble,” Jackson said. “We stopped running in transition, which could be attributed to the fact that we ran out of gas quite a bit. We had several defensive breakdowns. We just ran out of gas and had a few defensive breakdowns at crucial moments in the game.”
The result ended up being a 68-64 loss for the Huskies, who led by as many as 12 points in the first half.
“We need to play 40 minutes of basketball like we did against USC, like we did against UCLA,” Jackson said. “We need to have 40 minutes of intense, disciplined, focused basketball.”
Things won’t get any easier today against Oregon, which sits ahead of both Washington and Oregon State in the Pac-10 standings. The Huskies will again be without McCormack, who did not make the trip to Oregon.
“You miss a starter from the jump,” said Jackson. “She’s a kid who has come around and been a force inside. When you take away one of those and you bring one back who hasn’t played in three weeks [McLellan], that’s a tough, tough assignment for anybody.”
Jackson said her team’s biggest task against Oregon will be slowing down Taylor Lilley, one of the conference’s most dangerous shooters. Coming into today’s game, Lilley shares the conference lead in 3-pointers made, although she has been slowed down lately by teams that have made the sophomore guard the focus of their defenses. That’s a trend Washington figures to continue.
“They have a phenomenal high-low game, they have three very, very good shooters,” said Jackson, also mentioning Micaela Cocks and Kaela Chapdelaine. “We have to take [Lilley] out of the equation, or find a way to limit her looks.”
If the Huskies are successful in slowing Oregon’s outside game, look for the Ducks to work the ball inside to 6-foot-4 freshman Ellyce Ironmonger, who is second on the team with 8.5 points per game, as well as 6-3 freshman Ellie Manou.
Despite watching a big first-half lead fade away against Oregon State, Jackson saw some positives that could help her team tonight.
“Our running game was very, very impressive in the first half,” she said, noting the Huskies’ season-high 21 assists. “We were definitely moving the ball the way we’re supposed to and getting the ball up the floor the way we’re supposed to. Now we just need to do it for two halves.”
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