The Washington Huskies carried an eight-game home winning streak into their Husky Classic matchup with the Liberty Lady Flames, a greatly overmatched opponent on paper, and victory seemed almost certain.
Just seven days prior, on December 11th, the Flames were torched by South Carolina, 39 – 88.
On the same date, just seven days prior, the Huskies achieved a home blowout victory over the Washington State Cougars 82 – 66, for their first PAC-12 victory of the season.
Furthermore, Liberty came into the game shooting only 39.8% overall from the field and a mere 27.5% from three-point range.
Yet, Washington allowed an almost unfathomable upset to take place at Hec Ed, as Liberty controlled most of the game and marked their first PAC-12 victory ever, 66 – 54.
Again and again, the Flames took advantage of a soft three-point defense by the Huskies, hitting numerous uncontested three-pointers to the tune of 50% shooting from three-point range (9 for 18).
Again and again, the Huskies took bad shots, many from three-point range (14% shooting, 4 for 28), and came away with empty offensive possessions.
For the Liberty fans their victory over Washington was an instant classic, their first victory over a PAC-12 team in five tries (1 -4).
The Huskies showed up for the first quarter, setting a quick pace that seemingly caught Liberty by surprise.
The Dawgs held the lead the entire first period, which ended with UW leading 16-9 after two straight three-pointers in the final minute by Lauren Schwartz and Hannah Stines, respectively.
Washington dominated the first quarter statistically, holding Liberty to 30% shooting overall and 15% from three-point range.
In the first period, the Huskies had 11 rebounds, forced three turnovers with two steals and one block.
In the second period with 5:36 to go, UW built a 13-point lead over the Liberty, 24-11.
Then the Huskies appeared to lose some combination of focus, composure or interest in the game.
In the second quarter, Liberty forced four turnovers by the Huskies, while shooting 66% from three-point range (6-9) and 58.8% overall (10-17).
Meanwhile, Washington shot 0% from three-point range (0 -4) in the second quarter.
In the second period, Liberty outscored Washington, 26-15, and allowed Liberty guard Emma Hess to score 13 points — 3 for 5 from three-point range. (Hess should have been on the pre-game scouting report.
Liberty took a 35 -31 lead into halftime on a three-pointer by Jordan Bailey to end the second quarter.
To start the third quarter, Jayda Noble converted a three-point play to cut Liberty’s lead to 35-34.
Then Washington continued its collapse, shooting a mere 2-for-15 for the remainder of the third quarter – 18.8% for the entire third period.
Meanwhile, Liberty shot 45.5% in the third quarter and ended the period with the lead, 48 – 39.
Liberty guard Jordan Bailey single-handedly outscored the Huskies, 9 -8, in the third period.
Rather than responding, the fourth quarter saw the Huskies’ play sink further into ignominy.
Washington failed to score for the first 6 minutes and 37 seconds of the fourth quarter.
Liberty built a 61 – 44 lead with 4:32 left in the game.
With time running out on the Huskies chances, Huskies coach Tina Langley made her only major adjustment of the game — fullcourt pressure defense on the Liberty guards.
The Huskies managed a last gasp 10-to-1 run to pull within eight points, 54-62 with 1:28 left to play.
It was all “too little, too late” as the Liberty made their free throw attempts down the stretch to seal their upset victory.
For the game, the Liberty Lady Flames shot 50% (9-of-18) from three-point range versus the Huskies 14.3% (4-of-28), which sealed the Dawgs fate.
Ultimately, the Washington Huskies were out-hustled, out-played, and out-coached by the Liberty Lady Flames.
The Dawgs will try to bounce back against SIUE Cougars on December 20th at Hec Ed.