With an upset brewing and its bubble about to burst, No. 5 Washington came from behind to defeat No. 12 Oregon, 69-62, in the final game of the Pacific-12 women’s basketball tournament’s opening round, Thursday at Seattle.
Trailing by 22 in the first half and 11 at recess, the Huskies set records for the largest comeback in the history of the 12-year tournament, eclipsing the 16 points Stanford needed to overtake Arizona in 2004 and 10 points Arizona State was behind to the Wildcats at the half in 2002.
“The most important thing we have to learn is there’s no 21-point play,” Washington coach Kevin McGuff said. “We have to do this possession by possession. We were rushing shots, but once we kind of settled in, we got ourselves going.”
Jazmine Davis led the Huskies (20-10) with 28 points, Talia Walton scored 19 and grabbed nine, and Aminah Williams scored 11 with 17 rebounds- the third-most in tourney history. Freshman of the Year Jillian Alleyne had 11 and 15 for the Ducks (4-27), Ariel Thomas led the team with 13 points, Danielle Love added 10, and three-sport star Liz Brenner tied her personal best of 15 rebounds.
The Huskies came within five, 45-40, with 13 minutes left on a Mercedes Wetmore shot, only to answered by Devyn Galland on the Oregon side.
Alleyne kept pounding them in the paint, and Davis hit a three and later hit two from the line to cut the lead to 49-45.
“It was a matter of staying together,” Davis said. “When you get down like that, you never want to think ‘Oh no, we’re done.’ None of us thought that.”
Galland sank a three on the ensuing possession, but Davis scored and added one from the line on the other end to retain the margin. Wetmore decreased it to three from the line, and a Davis jumper brought Washington within one, 52-51, with 9:30 left. Alleyne sent Kristi Kingma to the line for two free throws that gave the Huskies their first lead of the game, 53-52. It wouldn’t last long, as Alleyne came right back up the court to give the advantage back to the Ducks.
The lead would continue to reverse between the two over the next several minutes. Davis would record the next four, before Amanda Delgado drained a three for Oregon, and Thomas converted one the old-fashioned way. A traveling call gave the ball back to the Ducks. Talia Walton scored back-to-back Husky field goals to give them a 61-60 lead with just over four minutes left.
After a Thomas free throw, a Davis finger roll gave Washington a 65-62 lead with 1:30 on the clock. Coming out of the next timeout, Walton knocked down a three from the left, and Alleyne missed two free throws that will haunt her all summer with a minute left. Walton ferociously grabbed the rebound on the second attempt, and Aminah Williams ended it from the line in the final moments.
“We showed we were able to stay together as a team on both ends of the floor,” Williams said. “I think that’s why we were able to come back.”
The Huskies are now 3-2 all-time versus the Ducks in the event, and they go on to face No. 4 Colorado (24-5) at 8:30 p.m. PT Friday.