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UW defense digs hole too big to climb out of in ninth straight loss

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UW defense digs hole too big to climb out of in ninth straight loss

Senior guard Amber Melgoza pleads her case to an official for a foul after a basket in Washington's loss to Utah at Alaska Airlines Arena on Feb. 7, 2020.

The Washington women’s basketball team once again got out to a slow start and its inability to contain perimeter shooting proved too big an obstacle to overcome in its 74-65 home loss to Utah.

The Huskies (10-12, 2-9 Pac-12) have been showing different defensive looks most of the season. While switching between man and zone, the 2-3 and 3-2 zones were featured in the first half of Friday night’s game.

The Utes (11-11, 4-7 Pac-12) were moving the ball all around the perimeter early, and it proved to be a problem for the Dawgs. The ball movement kept the UW zone moving, and UU was able to assist on nine of its 16 made field goals. 

The left wing was a weak spot for the Washington defense in the first half, Utah would collapse double teams then pass out to often get wide open shooters in that spot. In the first half, it shot 10 threes from the left side of the arc and connected on five of them.

“Our philosophy was to contain the basketball and not create help and recover situations, play one-on-one type basketball, stay in each other’s high gaps, play one-on-one in the paint,” head coach Jody Wynn said. “But they were able to get past us and create help and recover situations too much, kick out threes.”

Going into the break, the Dawgs trailed by 13 points, and allowed 47% shooting from the field and 40% from three. 32 of Utah’s 38 points before halftime came at either the three point line or in the paint.

The Huskies responded in the third quarter, holding the Utes to just 33% shooting from the floor, and five made field goals. The problem was that three of Utah’s made field goals came from beyond the arc, which helped its lead hold throughout the whole game.

“Our third quarter and their bounce back out of the locker room at halftime,” Wynn said. “I thought we did a really nice job defensively and got ourselves playing downhill, got some layups, but they made more shots.”

Despite being down double figures, the Dawgs didn’t show any quit on the defensive end to close the game. They only allowed two field goals in the final six minutes, and one came on a runout in the final ten seconds. A full court trap proved successful with eight forced turnovers in the fourth quarter.

“We always have like this really good energy, we don’t ever give up, I feel like, even if we’re down 10 with 30 seconds left, we just always have this really good energy, I think that’s what we had,” Haley Van Dyke said. “But we were just right there, we’re just not close enough.”

Washington will now complete the four game homestand against Colorado on Sunday at noon. 

Reach reporter Josh Eddy at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @JoshTreEddy

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