Updated Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Washington defied logic long enough.
On Saturday, the Huskies couldn't mask blatant offensive struggles with unimaginable comebacks. They couldn't turn a porous first-half defense into a steel wall after the break. They couldn't win after making every mistake possible.
Second-year coach Kevin McGuff knew it. He calmed his normal sideline coaching theatrics and took a rare seat late in the second half of a 54-46 loss, knowing a defeat to UC Santa Barbara was inevitable.
"Unfortunately the way that really gets their attention is a loss," McGuff said of his team understanding the damage bad starts cause. "It's a hard lesson to learn and it's an unfortunate one. But we played our best basketball probably coming out of the Long Beach loss and hopefully we'll do it again (after Saturday)."
Washington was on a four-game winning streak after a 71-62 loss at Long Beach State. Not that the Huskies were playing complete games. They had to rally from a 19-point deficit to defeat San Diego State on Dec. 5.
"It's frustrating," senior Kristi Kingma said of always having to play desperately in the second half to win.
The Huskies appeared poised for another dramatic difference in halves. Washington shot 18.8 percent from the field before the break. McGuff made defensive changes in playing a full-court press and double-teaming senior forward Sweets Underwood, who scored 12 points in the first half.
Washington clawed back from a 17-point deficit to close to 34-33 after a three-pointer by redshirt freshman Talia Walton with 9:31 remaining in the game. But the Huskies were outscored 13-5 to trail 47-36 with 2:17 left.
A three-pointer by sophomore guard Jazmine Davis made the score 48-43 with 52 seconds remaining. Then a stronger, more offensively accurate Santa Barbara team leaned on junior guard Nicole Nesbit (12 second-half points) to keep the Gauchos from losing.
Davis led the Huskies with 20 points on 6-for-20 shooting. Kingma was 2 for 12 for 10 points and seven rebounds. Underwood led Santa Barbara with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
"We can't just dig ourselves holes like that," UW junior guard Mercedes Wetmore said. "We say that every time but the last few times it's been all happy at the end because we pulled it out. Well, when you don't pull it, it's a different story. It's something we have to address and figure out how to do it — get better starts."
Washington (6-2) doesn't have time to dwell on the loss. It hosts Idaho (3-6) in a 1 p.m. game Sunday.
The Vandals are a different team, shooting more three-pointers than penetrating to the hoop like Santa Barbara (4-5).
Idaho has won its past two games in the midst of a six-game road swing.
"We just want to get back out there and redeem ourselves," Wetmore said.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|UC SANTA BARBARA 54|
Percentages: FG .353, FT .842. Three-point goals: 2-9 (Nesbit 0-2, Ware 0-2, Zornig 2-5). Team rebounds: 0. Blocked shots: 2 (Aguirre 2). Turnovers: 17 (Underwood 5, Tilleman 3, Nesbit 3, Aguirre, Mason, Ware, Campbell, Zornig 2). Steals: 3 (Underwood, Tilleman, Zornig). Technical fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .213, FT .722. Three-point goals: 7-24 (Walton 2-6, Wetmore 0-1, Kingma 2-9, Davis 3-8). Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 2 (Walton 2). Turnovers: 8 (Walton 2, Wetmore 3, Davis 3). Steals: 8, (Walton, Williams, Wetmore 3, Kingma, Davis 2). Technical fouls: None.
|UC Santa Barbara||27||27||—||54|
Attendance: 1,689. Officials: Melissa Barlow, Wanda Szeremeta, Mazetta Garrett.