Jazmine Davis scorched the Wildcats for a career-high 28 points, 22 of which came in the first half. Photo by Sang Cho
At halftime the score was Jazmine Davis 22, Arizona 21. With one proud papa looking on.
Davis, who finished with a career-high 28 points, wasn’t the whole team for the Huskies (11-7, 3-5 Pac-12) in their 77-48 beatdown of the cellar-dwelling Wildcats (13-7, 2-6) on Thursday night, but at times — particularly in that whirlwind of a first half, which ended with the Huskies leading 49-21 — it sure seemed like it.
Her father had made the trip to Seattle from their native Bay Area for a game for the first time. Davis admitted to feeling a few nerves.
“I was thinking, ‘Just calm down,’” she said. “‘Don’t do anything too crazy.’”
She was 8-of-11 from the field in the first 20 minutes, knocked down three 3-pointers, and led the fast break like a Tasmanian devil on the loose.
Or maybe that’s Jazmanian devil?
Reports that smoke was coming off the freshman as she headed to the locker room at the half were unverifiable.
“Yeah, I think Jaz put on a little show for her dad,” backcourt mate Mercedes Wetmore said.
Davis was on a hot streak coming into the game, leading all Pac-12 freshmen in scoring. She’s certainly had her offensive outbursts this season, like when she poured in 27 points against Colorado. But this was something else entirely. Davis could have walked on water, and the crowd at Alaska Airlines Arena would have taken it in stride.
Her brilliance was the catalyst for the single best all-around half the Huskies have played this season. Regina Rogers looked nearly fully recovered from the hamstring bruise that wouldn’t go away, putting up 12 points and collecting five rebounds in the first period en route to her fifth double-double of the season, finishing with 20 and 10.
The Huskies’ 49 points in the first 20 minutes were more than they scored in the entirety of either of their past two games.
“We played with much better pace tonight,” head coach Kevin McGuff said. “We moved the ball much better, and then we made shots that we got. We did get better shots tonight, but sometimes it’s just about making shots, and we made them tonight.”
After the UW pushed its lead to 30 just a few ticks into the second half, the remainder of the game was all but a formality. Arizona picked up the intensity, slapping on a full-court press and finally knocking down some shots, but the monumental deficit proved to be too much to overcome.
The UW offense may have been the star of the show, but the Huskies also played the kind of physical, lock-down defense that has become a standby under McGuff. The dangerous Davellyn Whyte entered the game ranked second in the Pac-12 in scoring, but the UW limited her to just 10 points on 20 percent shooting.
In all, Arizona shot just 30 percent, while the Huskies, in one of their more efficient games of Pac-12 play, shot 45 percent. McGuff’s squad also won the turnover battle, committing just nine, a season low, to the Wildcats’ 23.
But perhaps most importantly, the win restored the Huskies’ belief in themselves.
As Wetmore said, “We really have good chances right now, if we continue to play as well as we played tonight, of really moving right up the ladder in the Pac-12.”
Reach reporter Kevin Dowd at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kevindowd.
It would be hard to find a team more different from Arizona than the Huskies’ opponent on Saturday, Arizona State (13-5, 4-3 Pac-12). While the Wildcats sometimes treat defense like it’s optional and have never met a 3-pointer they didn’t like, the Sun Devils prefer to grind out games one stop at a time. They lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense, allowing just 52.2 points per contest.
“They’re going to be really, really aggressive on defense,” UW head coach Kevin McGuff said. “They’re going to pressure and deny to try to take you out of anything you want to run.”
Of course, it will be a lot easier for the Huskies to attack that feisty defense on the heels of their offensive explosion from Thursday night, led by the sizzling-hot play of Jazmine Davis. The UW and Arizona State will tip at 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at Alaska Airlines Arena.
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