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Washington beats Ohio State with strong defensive effort

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Junior forward Mai-loni Henson jumps up to catch the ball. Henson had four assists and a steal against Ohio State.

The Washington women's basketball team topped Ohio State 69-59 with a lockdown performance on the defensive end. Both teams struggled with turnovers but the the Huskies came out strong against the Buckeyes with their full court press and active defense that switched off and on from man-to-man to a zone which kept OSU on their toes.

Head coach Jody Wynn was quick to substitute in the opening frame; the entire team had seen the floor within the opening five minutes of the game. The UW offense was led in the first quarter by junior guard Amber Melgoza who started out hot with a hard drive to the basket and an open three-pointer. The quarter came to a close as 6-foot, 4-inch Ohio State freshman Dorka Juhasz for scored her first career three-pointer at the buzzer. 

Washington was strong on the boards in the second quarter, out-rebounding Ohio State 23-16 even with a height disadvantage. However, the Huskies (5-3) turned the ball over 13 times in the first half to Ohio State’s 10. When they weren’t turning the ball over their offensive looked cohesive with passing and evenly distributing the basketball well.

“I thought we really, before the game, read our scout,” Melgoza said. “We knew, [Carmen Grande] is the main person on the court, she’s the one who gives the assists and makes them knock down shots and we did a great job shutting her down a little bit and making her frustrated”.

At the beginning of the second half Ohio State came out with a zone defense which made the Huskies rely more on their game from behind the arc. The Buckeyes (3-2) turned the ball over nine times in third quarter while the Dawgs cleaned up their turnovers with only three, which allowed them to have more fast break opportunities and points in transition.

“They got some penetration, they got some dump down layups,” Wynn said. “But overall I think that we mixed things up defensively, maybe threw off their rhythm and offensive movement. We did a nice job on their bigs and that was the No. 1 focus.”

Going into the final quarter of the game, the Huskies lead by 11, and kept that lead for most of the remaining time.

Melgoza finished the night carrying Washington with 28 points and seven rebounds. Senior forward Hannah Johnson’s nine rebounds and three points were also a big help in getting this win for the Huskies.

“It’s a huge win for us,” Melgoza said. “I think it’s a good starting point for us —  that we can compete with these high quality teams and I thought we did a great job tonight”.

Next, Washington will tackle the Husky Classic Tournament and will face Montana at 1 p.m. on Dec. 15.

Reach reporter Madison MacPhee . Twitter: @madison_macphee

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