Updated Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 01:01 AM
Washington was in a physical matchup it didn't know it could win.
When Ziploc-tight double-teams, blocks and tipped balls don't stop an opponent from scoring, it's hard to picture a successful outcome.
Still, the Huskies remained composed through a matchup that had 12 lead changes in the second half, with Washington prevailing 77-74 over Arizona State on Friday at Alaska Airlines Arena.
"I think we handled their pressure pretty well," UW sophomore Aminah Williams said. "Prior to the game, Coach (Kevin McGuff) told us that they're going to be very physical — an in-your-face type of team."
The teams traded leads in the second half until Washington went ahead for good at 69-67 when Talia Walton hit a jumper with 4:05 remaining.
Walton struck again with 2:40 left, nailing a three-pointer that was set up by an offensive rebound from Williams and a pass from Mercedes Wetmore.
That gave UW a 72-67 lead, and the Huskies didn't lead by less than four again until Jada Blackwell hit a three-pointer at the buzzer for Arizona State.
It was Washington's first conference-opening victory since the 2008-09 season when it defeated Washington State.
"It really boosts our confidence," said Walton, who finished with a team-high 19 points and five blocks. "Yeah, it's pretty tough (in) preseason, but everybody knows when it gets to Pac-12 play, that's when the lights are on and it's a lot bigger. Each win and loss is more emphasized."
The Sun Devils seemed to come in droves. ASU coach Charlie Turner Thorne, who returned from a yearlong sabbatical, used her signature 11-deep rotation.
Arizona State began the second half on a 10-2 run to take a 42-38 lead, its largest of the game.
ASU sophomore Jada Blackwell was the main nemesis for UW (9-3, 1-0 Pac-12) throughout, scoring 29 points on 12-of-17 shooting.
"In the second half we went to a post-scram, which is a post trap, and that kind of helped," said Williams, who had 14 points and 12 boards. "But she did have a really good game."
And those shots had to be surprising.
"A few, I'd say," Walton said. "But coach (Kevin McGuff) was just telling us that we have to make her shoot over us and she was going to miss some. But, like Aminah said, post-scram helped because she wasn't expecting two defenders to be there. It kind of threw her off."
It's Washington's first win against Arizona State (8-5, 0-1) since 2010. The Sun Devils had won 15 of the past 16 matchups.
UW hosts Arizona (9-3, 1-0) on Sunday.
"We handled a little bit of adversity there," said McGuff, whose team was outrebounded 52-30 but scored 21 points off 14 steals. "They (ASU) are going to have a terrific season, (so) this is a really good win for us."
|ARIZONA STATE 74|
Attendance: 2,341. Officials: Charles Gonzalez, Michol Murray, Cheryl Flores.
Arizona @ Washington,