Huskies beat St. Mary’s 73-61, stretch win streak to 4 games
By JOHN SLEEPER
SEATTLE — Having won five of its first seven games, the feeling is unavoidable that the University of Washington women’s basketball team just might be pretty good.
Certainly, Sunday’s 73-61 nonconference victory against St. Mary’s at Hec Edmundson Pavilion was a strong piece of evidence that the 2000-01 Huskies are a vastly improved team over last year’s 8-22 derailment. In winning its fourth straight game, Washington (5-2) topped the Gaels with four players scoring in double figures, by forcing 30 turnovers and by clamping down on St. Mary’s Twin (quite literally) Towers of Jerkisha and Jermisha Dosty.
"This is a much more cohesive team than it was last year," said guard Jill Pimley, who scored a career-high 14 points and played her usual floor-burn defense. "We give each other confidence. And getting some wins really gives you confidence."
Make no mistake; this was a victory over a quality team. St. Mary’s began the season with a 74-63 victory over always-powerful Stanford. Although the Gaels lost 65-52 at Oregon State Dec. 10, the Beavers are undefeated, and the defeat may not be the disaster it may have been in years past.
Not only that, but Washington showed little rust after an 11-day layoff between games, a respite for finals week.
"I think the layoff was real good for us," guard Megan Franza said. "Finals are a real stressful time for the team. We had a couple days completely off, without basketball practice. It was a good break."
The Huskies front line badly outplayed the Dosty twins. Knowing that the Gaels’ interior players have a habit of putting the ball on the floor and exposing themselves to turnovers, the Huskies knocked the ball out repeatedly. The Dostys combined on 7-for-23 shooting and 13 turnovers.
Franza scored a team-high 15 points, 12 in the first half. Forward Kellie O’Neill had another solid game, with 13 points and eight rebounds, while reserve post Andrea Lalum added 12 points.
Not to be overlooked was freshman guard Giuliana Mendiola, who narrowly missed a triple-double, with nine points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
But it was at the defensive end where the Huskies had it all over the Gaels.
"I was really pleased with our inside defense," UW coach June Daugherty said. "The Dosty twins are what make that team go. I thought we were able to force them into taking some tough shots and a lot of travel calls. I thought the entire front line did a great job of forcing them down behind the backboard and to take a tough shot or travel."
Although her contributions wouldn’t show up in the scorebook, LeAnn Sheets raised as much havoc with the Dostys as anyone. Her four points and three rebounds did little justice to her effective interior defense.
"They were real quick," Sheets said of the Dostys. "That was our main goal, to not let them drive and always block them out, because they were always going to the boards, no matter whether they were going over the back. I felt we were as strong as they were, maybe even stronger."
Certainly, the UW front line was deeper. The Gaels couldn’t sustain any momentum once the Dostys got into foul trouble.
The Huskies put on a 17-2 run early in the first half to turn an 8-5 deficit into a 22-10 advantage. The Gaels went without a field goal for 8:21, during which they missed nine straight shots from the floor, but more importantly, committed seven of their 16 first-half turnovers.
For the half, the Huskies forced St. Mary’s into 8-for-27 shooting from the floor. The Dosty twins were a combined 1-for-12 from the field.
The Huskies finished up the half up 43-25 with a 12-3 burst, capped by a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Pimley, who had eight first-half points.
UW’s lead reached 20 early in the second half. St. Mary’s staged a minor rally and got the deficit down to 10, 71-61, with 33 seconds left, but could get no closer.
The Gaels were without Katie Davis, a reserve guard-forward and the team’s third-leading scorer. She injured her back Wednesday in practice and did not make the trip. The 6-foot-2 Davis had been averaging 15 points and five rebounds in her last two games, including an 18-point, nine-rebound performance Dec. 10 at Oregon State.
The severity of Davis’ injury is not yet known.
"It’s a big blow for us," Gaels coach Michelle Jacoby said. "We have to bring kids 5-7 and 5-8 off the bench that don’t bring what Katie does."
Gaels forward Julie Morris led all scorers with 18 points.
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