1. Huskies Took Control with 1st Half Defensive Pressure and Aggressive Ball Movement on Offense
The Huskies started the game with a ferocious first quarter flurry of defensive intensity that the Toreros simply couldn’t handle.
Jody Wynn’s defensive scheme was aggressive early, as the Huskies deployed a full-court press after their made shots that seemed to effectively stifle San Diego’s early offense.
In the half-court, Washington aggressively trapped the Toreros’ ball-handlers, particularly in the corners and sidelines.
As a result, fifteen of San Diego’s 25 total turnovers in the contest came in the first half.
Even when Washington’s defense did not lead to a forced turnover, San Diego often ended up with a rushed shot due to a shortened shot clock.
On offense, the Dawgs showed beautiful ball movement on offense, aggressively whipping the ball to their teammates from side-to-side to keep one step ahead of San Diego’s defensive rotations.
Washington’s aggressive ball movement resulted in open shots and open lanes to the basket for the Huskies to take advantage.
By the end of the first quarter, the Huskies built a commanding 25-9 lead over San Diego.
Washington scored another 18 points in the second quarter and headed into halftime with a 43-21 lead over San Diego.
The Huskies displayed defensive dominance that underscores this team’s ability to be disruptive to opposing offenses. Hopefully, this type of defensive effort will become the norm
2. Coach Wynn’s Masterful Use of Substitutions
Per her usual style, Jody Wynn used her deep bench with liberal substitutions to keep pressure on the Huskies’ opponent.
This time, Coach Wynn made 29 substitutions in the first half, consisting of 15 first quarter substitutions and 14 second quarter substitutions.
Coach Wynn’s frequent substitutions kept Washington players fresh which allowed continuous aggressive full-court and half-court Huskies defense.
This, in tandem with UW pushing the ball up the court on offense at every opportunity, taxed San Diego’s much thinner roster.
It was clear later in the game that San Diego did not have the energy for a late comeback.
The Toreros continued to miss, even easy shots, and in the third quarter, San Diego shot 20% from the field; followed by 26.7% in the fourth quarter.
Despite seven UW turnovers in the third quarter and six Washington turnovers in the fourth quarter, the Toreros could not cut into the Huskies lead.
If Wynn can continue to use her bench successfully, it will pose a big challenge for Washington’s opponents to match the Huskies sustained effort.
3. Diminishing Returns of Huskies Second Half Offense
After scoring 25 points in the first quarter and 18 points in the second, the second half saw the Huskies slow down considerably on offense, although maintaining their defensive intensity.
On first blush, Washington’s 14 points in the third quarter while shooting 43.8% overall does not sound bad, but the Dawgs were 0-for-6 from beyond the three-point line and shot zero free throws.
Therefore, despite shooting 70% on two-pointers (7-10) the Huskies thought it wise to shoot six three-pointers in the third quarter.
As we indicated in our preview of the San Diego matchup:
the Toreros are equally poor defenders against post-up plays (11th percentile, nationally).*
San Diego’s #15 Leticia Soares and #11 Madison Pollock are both vulnerable in the post…
 Soares is a very poor defender overall, so the Huskies should take advantage of her with whomever she is guarding, by either driving or cutting past her from the wing; or by dominating her in the post.
The Huskies were facing turnstile defense in the post by San Diegos, but didn’t take advantage of it to the fullest extent in the third quarter.
As this shot chart indicates, UW scored on 4 layups by: #00 Quay Miller; #25 TT Watkins; #44 Missy Peterson; and #4 Amber Melgoza.
In addition, the Huskies scored three additional shots from inside the lane or within 2-3 feet of the lane, by: #4 Amber Melgoza; #53 Darcy Rees; and #00 Quay Miller.
Washington’s 70% success rate on 2-pointers should have led to the Huskies doubling down on attacking the basket, and this would have increased the likelihood of UW being fouled — the Huskies shot 75% from the free throw line against San Diego.
Instead, UW repeatedly settled for 3-point shots in the third quarter that didn’t put any pressure on San Diego’s terrible post defenders.
By the end of the third, Washington still held a 26-point lead over the the Toreros 57-31, heading into the fourth quarter.
However, in the PAC-12 there is little room for letting opponents off the hook when they show you their weakness.
The Huskies, players and coaches, need to become more adept at recognizing their advantages during a game and adjusting.
4. Too Many Turnovers In Fourth Created Offensive Power Outage
In the fourth quarter, Washington committed six turnovers, mostly against pressure defense by San Diego.
Meanwhile, The Huskies’ offense diminished considerably in the fourth — scoring only one layup each by T.T. Watkins and Quay Miller, both assisted by Mai-Loni Henson; and a three-pointer by Missy Peterson assisted by Amber Metgoza.
The Dawgs seemed to struggle with breaking the Toreros press, something Washington must improve upon or face being pressed the entire PAC-12 season.
Luckily, San Diego only managed to score 4 points of off UW’s turnovers.
San Diego’s final push was only enough to rob the Huskies of a 20-point victory, if losing by 18 points was a moral victory of sorts.
5. Quay Miller’s Breakout “Bully-Ball” Performance is Repeatable, If She Wants
Quay Miller had 9 points, 2 Blocks, 1 Rebound and 1 Assist in 18 minutes of play.
More importantly, Quay showed more offensive and defensive aggressiveness than she has previously by embracing the challenge against San Diego’s experienced bigs.
On defense, Quay was much more active, e.g., helping and recovering– but she needs to become more physical when guarding the lane.
Too many times, Miller allowed San Diego’s bigs to cut in front of her and post up, denying post position is always defensive priority and she must get better.
On offense, Miller used her unique combination of quickness and power in the post, by cutting to the basket and running the floor on the fastbreak.
Quay is a matchup nightmare when she plays to her strengths.
Underestimated by many “recruiting experts” Quay is not a typical big,
Quay’s ability to run the floor in transition; dribble-drive attack from the wing; operate in the high post, where against San Diego she perfectly executed a pick & slip screen that led to her scoring on a dive to the basket; and punish defenders in the low post makes her a unicorn –even if she’s not hitting the three-point shot.
Quay’s offensive versatility makes her dangerous, however, prior to this game Miller has spent too much time concerned with making three-point shots to the exclusion of being aggressive in the paint where she is most effective.
At this early point in her career, Miller is not yet an effective three-point shooter (8.3% from three).
No doubt Quay can and will improve her three-point shooting, but that will likely come in the off-season when she can fully concentrate on that skill.
In the meantime, Quay can, and should, play bully-ball on offense — something no one else on the Huskies roster can do which can make her an invaluable player in her freshman season.
Miller has the natural ability to draw fouls– against San Diego she drew 2 fouls in 18 minutes.
But for the season, Quay Miller’s Free Throw Rate (the rate at which she draws fouls) is only 12.5%.
By comparison, Miller’s free throw rate is less than teammates Ali Bamberger (32.0%); Khayla Rooks (22.7%); Missy Peterson (22.2%); and Haley Van Dyke (13.8%) — Miller can easily improve in this area by playing a physical game on offense.
Although Quay currently makes only 63.6% of her free throw attempts, this is less important than her lack of trips to the foul line. Miller’s percentage of points from free throws is 18.4% with only 11 attempts for the season — a paltry 1.4 Free Throw Attempts per game.