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UW Opens Season Wednesday Against San Diego State In Las Vegas

Nov 23, 2020

Weekly Release: vs. San Diego State

Washington  opens the long-awaited 2020-21 season with a pair of games in Las Vegas as part of The Vegas Bubble Tournament. The Huskies will open the campaign against San Diego State (14-17) on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at T-Mobile Arena at 7:00 p.m. That game will be available via stream on FloHoops and fans can also listen to Gary Hill Jr. on the UW/IMG College Network on KKNW 1150 AM, on the TuneIn App, or GoHuskies.com. UW will remain in Las Vegas and also play BYU on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at South Point Arena.

LEADING THE BREAK...

WHO'S BACK: The Huskies only return 37.1% of their scoring from 2019-20 and 40.4% of their rebounding. They will suit up six players who saw game action in 2019-20. Haley Van Dyke, who was second on the team with 8.2 points per game, is the leading returning scorer. A pair of seniors -- Khayla Rooks and Alexis Griggsby -- are the most veteran players on the squad. Junior Darcy Rees is the Huskies' biggest presence in the middle and also was the team's top 3-point shooter. Sophomore Quay Miller started down the stretch for the Huskies and will give them another post presence. Sophomore Callie Lind was awarded a scholarship during fall camp and is a much-improved 3-point threat. 
WHO'S NEW: UW has one redshirt-freshman and three true freshman joining the team. Guard Nia Lowery sat out last year while recovering from an injury, but was a four-star recruit out of Sacramento. Tameiya Sadler was the 98th-ranked recruit by ESPN, #20 overall point guard, and will assume a starting role out of the gates. Forward Alexis Whitfield is the top-rated freshman by ESPN's rankings (#61, #15 forward), while guard Jayda Noble was just outside the top-100, but is a four-star recruit with unbelievable athleticism. 
WHO'S SITTING OUT: Guard Missy Peterson was going to be counted on to provide senior leadership and scoring, but tore her ACL in the early stages of camp and will miss the season. Junior college transfer Grace Beasley will also miss the year while recovering from hip surgery. Junior T.T. Watkins opted out due to Covid-19 concerns.
WHO'S GONE: Amber Melgoza, the school's eighth all-time leading scorer with 1,717 points, and key starter Mai-Loni Henson have graduated. Guard Rita Pleskevich (Florida Atlantic) and forward Ali Bamberger (St. Mary's) were also mainstays and have transferred out of the program.

Scouting the Aztecs
In 2019-20, San Diego State was 14-17 overall and 9-9 in the Mountain West Conference to tie for fifth, its highest finish since 2012-13. The Aztec women's basketball team was picked to finish fourth in the Mountain West preseason poll. SDSU placed junior Sophia Ramos on the preseason All-Conference team and saw Asia Avinger tabbed as the preseason Freshman of the Year. Ramos was All-Mountain West in 2020 after averaging 14.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists. Avinger was the No. 56 overall recruit according to ESPN. In addition to Ramos, the Aztecs return senior starting guard Téa Adams and sophomore forward Mallory Adams, an all-conference honorable mention selection in 2018-19, who was limited to six games last year due to injury. The Aztecs have eight newcomers (five freshmen and three transfers) who will be joining the program for the 2020-21 season, including Minnesota transfer Mercedes Staples and Avinger. SDST is led by Stacie Terry-Hutson, who is entering her eighth season at the helm and has an 87-128 record. She is 0-2 against the Huskies.

All-Time Series vs San Diego State
Washington is 3-1 all-time against SDST, including  a three-game win streak over the Aztecs. The teams last met on Nov. 23, 2015 in Seattle with the Huskies winning 80-51. UW also has wins on 12/08/14 on the road (69-48) and 12/5/12 at Alaska Airlines Arena (59-58). The Aztec won 63-51 the first time the teams met, Nov. 26, 2011 in San Diego.

Last Time Out
Amber Melgoza capped off an incredible career at Washington pouring in 30 points, but the Huskies fell 72-63 to the No. 8 seed Utah in the first round of the 2020 Pac-12 Tournament on March 5, 2020 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Melgoza closed out her Husky career by doing what she had done much of the year: carrying the team on her shoulders. The senior scored 30+ points for the fourth time in 2019-20 and became the first player to score 30+ points three times in the Pac-12 Tournament. She was a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line and 9-of-20 from the field, adding four assists and four rebounds. The game was a back and forth affair with each team holding a lead in the first half. Utah took advantage early in the third with a 21-4 run before the Huskies reeled them back in to two with a quick 8-1 run to end the third and start the fourth.  But the Utes would pull ahead for good with a final push, outscoring Washington 10-4 to take their largest lead of the game at 64-54 with 6:08 left and never looked back.

Up Next
The Huskies will remain in Las Vegas and face BYU at South Point Arena on Saturday, Nov. 28 at 6:30 p.m. 

Senior Swag
A trio of seniors is down to a duo after Missy Peterson tore the ACL in her left knee during the early stages of fall camp. That leaves Khayla Rooks and Alexis Griggsby to pick up the senior leadership for the team. With 90 games under her belt, Rooks is the most experienced returning player on the roster. She is a versatile forward who is a top free-throw shooter, knocking down 80.6% during her career. Griggsby was playing the best basketball of her career down the stretch in 2020 and will be asked to pick up where she left off this season. Wynn says of her seniors:

"(Kayla's) shouldering a little bit more of a leadership role this year and it has been great to see the ownership she is placing on herself. It's been really fun to watch her growth from one year to the next, and now feeling like as a senior she knows she can no longer defer to someone else doing the job right."

"(Alexis') voice – on the bench, on the sideline, on the court – it's very valuable to us. She is somebody that understands what we're asking and looking for with every possession."

Van Dyke's Time To Shine
With Amber Melgoza and Mai-Loni Henson graduating and senior Missy Peterson missing the year due to injury, junior Haley Van Dyke will be asked to step out of the shadows. The 6-1 forward was already the team's leading returning scorer at 8.2 ppg and snagged a team-best 64 steals, which was second in the Pac-12 and 72nd nationally. Although she will be asked to pick up her share of the load, Coach Wynn said the scoring will not fall just on her shoulders:

"It's going to have to be done by committee. I think Haley Van Dyke is certainly emerging as someone that can score at all three levels – whether it's at the rim, shooting pull-ups or hitting the three-ball. She's also someone that generates offense through her defense. She was one of the leaders in the Pac-12 in steals per game, so she's very valuable to us. It's going to be equal opportunity and the ball is going to move. Our team is going to rely upon each other to score the basketball."

Aussie Rules
The Huskies will have a pair of players from Australia on their roster in 2021-22, but unfortunately they are both unlikely to take the court together this season. Junior Darcy Rees returns as the team's top shot blocker (35 in 25 games) and 3-pt shooter (35.8%). She missed the final five games with a foot injury and is still battling back from that setback. Grace Beasley transferred to UW from Midland College and would have been a candidate to start at point guard, but instead she will sit out the year while recovering from hip surgery. In fall of 2021, a third Aussie, freshman Olivia Pollerd, is expected to join the team. Wynn on Rees' emergence as a 3-point threat:

"Darcy has grown tremendously over her almost three years. She came in never have shooting a three before in her life and she comes in to this season our most relied upon three-point shooter."

Missing Missy
The Huskies were dealt a big blow before the season got rolling when Missy Peterson went down with a torn ACL during practice in October. Not only will they miss her senior leadership and experience (team-high 50 career starts), her scoring (8.0 ppg) and distribution of the ball on the court (team leading 2.6 assists per game), but they'll be missing a coach on the court. Coach Wynn says:

"She's somebody that has a powerful voice in our program and we're certainly going to continue to count on that, whether it's in a locker room in the film room, or at practice. When she is not rehabbing, she's been there every day and given our young players really valuable insight."

Lind A Walk-On No More
Coach Wynn surprised walk-on Callie Lind by awarding the sophomore a scholarship after a practice in mid-November. Lind was elevated from the practice squad to the playing roster last November and went on to appear in 13 games as a freshman. Coach Wynn says she has transformed herself since last season and is ready to contribute:

"Callie returned to campus in incredible physical shape and much improved as a basketball player.  She is (a) knock-down (shooter). If she gets her feet set, she's knocking the shot down. She was kind of thrown in last year as a walk-on midseason, now she has the understanding and I expect her to get minutes on the floor."

Melgoza, Mai-Loni Move On
The Huskies will certainly miss the scoring punch that guard Amber Melgoza provided. The 2020 All-Pac-12 selection averaged 17.2 points per game and finished her career eighth all-time in UW history with 1,717 points. But they also will not have the services of Mai-Loni Henson, who played in 123 games during her four-year career, scoring 723 points and recording 119 steals. Coach Wynn knows the duo is tough to replace, but likes how her team has responded:

"(They) were two cornerstones of everything that we did as a program, both on and off the court, offensively and defensively, over the last three years. I think there is an opportunity for a lot of girls to step up and have a little bit more of a role, wheter its through their voice and their leadership, or on the court offensively and defensively. We've really seen some kids emerge and it's been fun to watch their growth and development come to life." 

Stellar 2021 Signing Class
Jody Wynn and her staff traveled far and wide to compile ESPN's 16th-ranked recruiting class in the nation. There are two standouts from Arizona and one each from Colorado, Texas and Australia. All four players from the states participated in the McDonald's All-America evaluation event for top-150 recruits held in October. UW is one of four programs in the country – but the only Pac-12 school – that signed four players ranked in the ESPN Top-100. 

The five players – Marisa Davis-Jones (#76), Jess Finney (#94), A.J. Marotte (#63), Olivia Pollerd and Avery Van Sickle (#85) – compose the highly touted class. 

Marotte, a wing from Vista Ridge HS in Cedar Park, Texas, has amassed 1,441 points and 931 rebounds in 104 games. Davis-Jones (Surprise, Ariz./Valley Vista HS) is a gifted wing and has been able to dunk a basketball since the eighth grade. She averaged 22 points and 8.5 rebounds as a junior. Van Sickle (Castle Rock, Colo./St. Regis Jesuit) averaged 16.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 2.5 assists per game as a junior. Finney (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chapparal HS) averaged 21.8 points and hit 96 three-pointers as a junior. Pollerd will become the third Husky to hail from Australia when she arrives on campus next fall. The wing from Mount Martha, Victoria has plenty of international experience and will bring an all-around, inside-outside game to campus. Coach Wynn says: 

"We are very excited to have these five incredible young women join our Husky family. First and foremost, they are tremendous people. They come from terrific families, are unselfish teammates, and have the drive to succeed both in the classroom and on the court. All five ladies have played at the highest level available to them and know what it takes to win. This class continues to propel our program in the right direction and gives us an array of diverse skills."

New To The Pack: Asst. Coach Tamara McDonald
Tamara McDonald joined the coaching staff in early September to replace UW alum Michelle Augustavo-Fisher, who left her role to focus on her family. McDonald was a former standout player at Pepperdine from 1999-2003 while Jody and Derek Wynn were assistant coaches. She was a three-time All-West Coast Conference (WCC) selection, and in 2003 took home WCC Player of the Year honors. McDonald has 10 years of collegiate coaching experience, serving as an assistant coach at Cal Poly Pomona for five seasons followed by five years as the Head Coach at Citrus College. She has spent the last five year in the corporate world, serving as the Chief of Administration for the California Labor Commissioner's Office.

Home Away From Home
The Huskies have had success away from home since the end of last year, especially in neutral site contests. Washington is 9-9 outside of Seattle dating back to 2018-19 including a 5-2 record in its last seven neutral site games (2-1 at 2019 Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, 3-0 in Puerto Rico Clasico in 2019-20, 0-1 at 2020 Pac-12 Tournament). In 2019-20, Washington recorded its highest road-win total in three seasons with a 6-8 mark away from home (3-7 in true road games, 3-1 at neutral sites) with two of those six losses coming in OT at UCLA and USC. 

Helping During A Pandemic
The women's basketball coaching staff took time on April 27 to donate meals to their fellow Huskies at the UW Medical Center - Montlake to support those putting their lives on the line during the COVID-19 pandemic. Head Coach Jody Wynn, associate head coach Derek Wynn, and assistant Paul Reed and former coach Michelle Augustavo-Fisher delivered 50 meals to the hospital.

"The coaching staff felt that we needed to find a way to give back to our neighbors at the UW Hospital who are on the front lines of this battle against COVID-19," Wynn said. "They are literally putting their lives on the line for us and we can't thank them enough. We feel that providing a meal is the least we can do to show them our gratitude and jumped at the opportunity."

Close Games
Despite a 5-13 Pac-12 record in 2020, the Huskies were in nearly every game. Twelve of the 18 games were decided by 10 or fewer points with the Huskies holding a 5-7 mark in those games. In addition, Washington was within a single possession in the fourth quarter in 16 of 18 of its Pac-12 games with three of its losses coming in OT.

Working Overtime
After a long stretch which saw Washington play just two overtime games over a 5-1/2 year stretch including a run of 133-straight regulation contests, the Huskies played a program-record four overtime games in 2019-20. Unfortunately, Washington went winless in overtime games and has now lost five-straight dating back to the 2017-18 season. 

Feeling Defensive
Washington ranked second in the Pac-12 and 25th in the NCAA in steals, recording 299 on the season. The team's 299 steals were the most in over a decade when they recorded 301 in 2008-09. 

Winning at Home
The Huskies ended 2019-20 on a strong note, winning three-straight to close out the home portion of the schedule. Washington wrapped up the season with a 7-9 home record–its best win total at Alaska Airlines Arena in three season. In addition, the Huskies' three-game Pac-12 home winning streak is their longest in three seasons after winning just two total over the previous two years.

Huskies Nearing 850 Program Victories
Washington's win over UCLA was the 849th win in program history. The Huskies are averaging 18.4 wins per year over 46 seasons. All-time Washington is 849-530, a .616 winning percentage.

Put 'em in The 49er Club
Head Coach Jody Wynn has a defensive goal for each game: put the opponent in the "49er Club" by holding them to 49 points or less in a game. The Huskies did that five times last season including allowing just 34 points to Iona on Nov. 28–the fewest points allowed by UW since holding San Jose State to 27 points in 2010. The Huskies were 5-0 when holding teams under 50 points. Washington entered the season having put just two other teams in the 49er club since Wynn took over: one in each of the past two seasons (WSU, 56-49 UW win - 1/21/18; COLO, 60-46 UW win - 2/24/19).

Radio Show
Head Coach Jody Wynn joins Elise Woodward for the UW Coaches Show throughout the season. The show is carried live on KJR AM 950 in Seattle at 6:00 p.m. every Monday through March 15. It can also be heard at GoHuskies.com or via the TuneIn App, available in the App Stores.