PULLMAN – It’s supposed to be the simplest shot in basketball. Yet on Saturday night for the Washington State women, trying to convert an uncontested layup – just like trying to break a 16-year hex against its chief rival – was a tortuous experience.
The Cougars had three gimme layins rim out in the first few minutes, and they went on to shoot a frigid 27 percent from the field in a 60-51 loss to Washington in front of 1,310 at Friel Court.
WSU, enjoying its most promising season in years, has dropped 33 consecutive games to the Huskies. The Cougs’ last win over UW came on Jan. 25, 1996.
“When you miss as many layups as we missed tonight …” Wazzu coach June Daugherty said. “We work on it. We’ll continue to work on it. But to me, we were not in our normal poise, our normal routine. It looked like we were rushing – something that I hadn’t seen this year.”
The Huskies, led by guard Jazmine Davis, took advantage of the Cougs’ frazzled play and shooting woes. They ripped off a 9-2 run to end the first half, going into the break with a 15-point lead.
Davis tormented WSU (9-8, 3-2 Pac-12) from the perimeter and with quick-dribble drives into the lane. The 5-foot-8 freshman dropped in 25 points and ignited several key mini-spurts for UW, which was without leading scorer and rebounder Regina Rogers (hamstring).
Even minus the 6-3 Rogers, the Huskies (10-5, 2-3) outrebounded WSU 48-38 and had eight more second-chance points. Mackenzie Argens led UW with seven offensive boards.
“Before the game we talked about how we were No. 1 in the Pac-12 for defense, and the first half we didn’t play like it at all,” said WSU senior Rosie Tarnowski, the team’s leading scorer with 14 points. “And I honestly, I think that was the ball game.”
The Cougars went nearly 9 minutes in the first half without a field goal. But they trailed by just eight, 25-17, when Tarnowski ended the drought with a jumper from inside the free-throw line.
But throughout the first 20 minutes, Daugherty didn’t see the same energy from her players that she has grown accustomed to this season. She called it the Cougars’ poorest performance of the year overall, largely because of the lack of intensity.
“Just the way we played is not ourselves,” the former UW coach said. “But we have to learn from it and we have to continue to get better. This is early in the Pac-12 and this team is capable of way, way more play than what we showed tonight.”
The Cougars got within five points of Washington on Jazmine Perkin’s finger roll layin – the senior’s only field goal of the night – with just less than 12 minutes left. Perkins was fouled on her strong drive, but she missed the free throw and WSU never drew closer.