Iona’s #14 Morgan Rachu is their best shooter*, so the Huskies defense will need to keep track of her on the court.
Rachu led the Iona Gaels with 12 points, the only Gael to finish in double figures; and Rachu was also the Gaels’ leading rebounder with a game-high eight rebounds. Rachu was averaging 13.8 points per game so it is a (minor) win for UW’s defense to hold her 2 points below her average.
On the other hand, Washington was holding opponents to an average of 9.0 assists per game, but Iona managed to record 10 assists. However, limiting an opponent to only 10 assisted baskets is still a very good effort and another win for the UW defense.
Overall, the Huskies held the Gaels to just 26.8% FG shooting, significantly better than their season average of limiting opponents to 32.3% FG shooting.
On paper, Washington is far superior in almost every offensive category with a glaring exception — Iona ranks 4th in the nation with a 44.1% 3-Point rate; meanwhile the Huskies defense is allowing opponents a 3-point rate of 29% which ranks them 187th. (per HerHoopStats)
A 15% difference in three-point shot production between offense versus defense is substantial and it is a sure sign that the Huskies defense must emphasize denying Iona three-point shot opportunities.
Iona’s 44% 3-point rate — a measure of what % of a team’s shots come from long-distance — was even higher against the Dawgs — 48.7% ; and much greater than the Huskies defensive average of 29%. This is a major concern.
The Huskies defense did not do a good job limiting Iona’s three-point opportunities, and that is a defensive vulnerability that PAC-12 caliber teams can and will exploit.
Against the Dawgs, the Gaels shot 30% (6-20) from behind the three-point line, better than the Huskies defensive average of 26.7%, but still not a great percentage– thereby, letting the Huskies defense off the hook.
For example, last season many PAC-12 opponents averaged well over 30% from three-point distance, including Oregon (41.3%); Oregon State (37.6%); California (37.5%); Stanford (34.8%); WSU (34.9%) — and that is only their average, not what they shoot against bad three-point defense.
It’s not all bad, presumably Iona only shot 30% because Washington was able to affect the quality of Iona’s three-point opportunities by contesting or hurrying their shots with defensive pressure.
The UW Huskies domination of Iona with a very good defensive effort shows promising progression, yet the Huskies must challenge themselves to achieve an even greater defensive performance to sustain their success.