SEATTLE — A speed bump.
On Stanford’s road to a 10th consecutive Pac-10 title, and a possible rematch with top-ranked Connecticut late in the NCAA tournament, the University of Washington was barely an obstacle Friday night.
The Huskies endured a miserable night of shooting, essentially playing the part of onlookers as second-ranked Stanford breezed to its 13th consecutive victory, 58-36, at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
While UW held Stanford to its lowest scoring total of the season, a horrendous shooting effort by the Huskies prevented the game from ever being close. UW shot just 26 percent, including 13 percent in the first half, en route to its lowest point total of the season and lowest since scoring 32 in a loss to Arizona State last February.
Along the way, the Huskies become the latest victim of the Cardinal machine. Stanford (22-1 overall, 12-0 in the Pac-10) has beaten each of its five most recent opponents by at least 20 points.
“We knew they were going to come at us,” said UW coach Tia Jackson, whose team outrebounded the Cardinal 35-33. “We knew they were big.”
The Huskies, meanwhile, have lost three in a row, including the last two by a combined 52 points. After getting off to a surprising 3-1 start in Pac-10 play, UW (9-13, 4-8) has lost seven of eight conference games.
“It’s frustrating,” senior Sami Whitcomb said. “We’ve seen the success we can have and what we’re capable of. It’s frustrating because for a good amount of the game, we do what we’re supposed to do, but we have breakdowns that keep us from getting the win.”
The Huskies owe no apologies for Friday’s outcome, if for no other reason than how often Stanford has blown opponents out. UW had a bit of a moral victory in the first meeting, having lost by only 15 points at Stanford. The Huskies were within single digits of the Cardinal in the final few minutes of that game.
But Friday’s game was a different story.
Stanford hit its first four shots to jump out to an 8-2 lead, and the cold-shooting Huskies fell quickly out of contention from there. UW hit just two of its first 15 shots, eventually missing eight in a row en route to an 18-5 deficit 10 minutes into the game.
By that point, two of the Huskies’ post players were already sidelined with two fouls apiece, forcing seldom-used true freshman Jeneva Anderson to play extended minutes. UW dodged a bullet when 6-foot-2 senior Laura McLellan went down with a knee injury after getting tangled up with an opposing player at the 5:26 mark. She had her knee tested in the locker room and was back on the floor less than two minutes later.
Facing a Stanford team that includes seven players 6-3 or taller, the Huskies were forced into a zone defense that was actually somewhat effective. But UW continued to misfire from the field and trailed 28-12 at the half. The Huskies made just 4 of 31 shots through the first 20 minutes, and their final four possessions constituted of two traveling calls, a missed free throw at the front end of a 1-and-1, and a forced shot as time expired.
Whitcomb and Regina Rogers each hit two first-half field goals for the Huskies, while the rest of the team was 0-for-18 from the field by halftime.
“We kind of lost ourselves a little bit in the first half and dug ourselves a little bit of a hole,” Jackson said. “We took some ill-advised shots.”
The Huskies came out strong at the start of the second half, with two quick baskets by Rogers and an open layup by Mackenzie Argens. But those three possessions were followed by four consecutive turnovers and Rogers collecting her third foul, essentially thwarting any hopes of a monumental comeback.
Rogers was the only UW player in double figures, scoring 10 points. Whitcomb added eight, and Argens had six.
If the Huskies could hang their hats on anything Friday night, it’s that they were able to contain Pac-10 player-of-the-year candidate Nnemkadi Ogwumike. The sophomore star scored six points in the first 2:35 but went 26 minutes before scoring another field goal. Ogwumike, who leads the Pac-10 in scoring with 19.0 points per game, was held to 12 Friday. Jayne Appel led the Cardinal with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
The Huskies haven’t beaten Stanford in eight meetings and haven’t beaten a top-five opponent in 14 meetings, going all the way back to their Dec. 1997 win over fifth-ranked LSU.
UW returns to the court Sunday for a locally-televised game against Cal. The game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports Northwest.