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Robinson: Washington on its way to fixing second half struggles

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Robinson: Washington on its way to fixing second half struggles

Quay Miller makes an unsuccessful attempt for two points during Washington's loss to Washington State at Alaska Airlines Arena on Jan. 11, 2020.

The Washington women’s basketball team has a problem in the second half. The Huskies tend to come out of halftime without the same energy of the first half, and a halftime lead starts to shrink, sometimes not lasting until the final buzzer. 

That same trend continued in a loss to Washington State Saturday, sort of. For most of the third quarter, the Huskies (10-5, 2-2 Pac-12) didn’t see the same issues, but it didn’t last.  

“I think it was probably one of our best third quarters we’ve had all year,” Peterson said. “We’ve struggled a lot coming out of halftime — just a slow start, it takes us a while to get going. I think we definitely had a better third quarter, but in terms of fourth quarter we definitely need to work on that a little bit more.”

Washington commanded the beginning of the game with defense. The Cougars (9-7, 2-2 Pac-12) didn’t score until over six minutes in. More importantly, the Huskies locked down Washington State’s offensive powerhouse Chanelle Molina. 

Last week’s Pac-12 player of the week, averaging 27.5 points-per-game in the Bay Area, Molina took five shots in the first quarter and didn’t make a single one. Senior Amber Melgoza blocked one shot from Molina in the first quarter, and the Huskies kept WSU from grabbing rebounds on the rest of them. 

Molina may have played all 10 minutes of the second quarter, but she didn’t take a single shot. 

“We just kept her in front of us,” head coach Jody Wynn said. “We did a really nice job of containing her penetration.”

Twenty five minutes and 23 seconds into the game, Molina hit her first shot and things started to go downhill for the Huskies. It started to look more like how Washington has usually looked right out of the half this season. 

The Cougars shot 21.4% in the first quarter, and shot up to nearly 40% in the second. In the third, they inched up to over 40%, but in the fourth quarter they took complete control of the game shooting 64.3%. A lot of that had to do with Washington State hitting its stride, but it also had to do with the Washington defense slipping. 

The UW’s defense has improved a lot from last season to this one, but offensively they still aren’t all the way there. When the high energy defense starts slowing down, as has been the problem that’s lead to tough second halves all season, offensive issues get thrown into stark contrast.

“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well,” Wynn said. “We missed a lot of layups in the first quarter, played a little too fast. I think for the whole game we might have missed 20 layups, and we didn’t have the bench production offensively that we normally do.”

Washington only had 15 points off the bench, with sophomore Haley Van Dyke, who has led the Huskies in scoring a few times this season, only adding two points in the game. While the Dawgs stayed ahead for three quarters, those offensive struggles meant that they didn’t have much buffer when the defense started to slow down. 

Still, it was an improvement over earlier games like the overtime loss to Vanderbilt or the Stanford game where the Huskies went into the half tied and lost by 20. Fixing second half problems could be a difference maker for the Dawgs as they get deeper into the Pac-12 season, and it looks like they’re getting closer. 

Reach Engagement Editor Hailey Robinson at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @haileyarobin

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