Five takeaways from the UW Huskies Women’s basketball program’s win over California, as Washington improved their PAC-12 conference record to 2 – 0.
Amber Melgoza is Working Harder to Score This Year and That’s Alright
This season, it appears that opposing defenses are paying special attention to Amber Melgoza, sending multiple defenders her way earlier and more often in games.
Increased attention may be the source of some of Melgoza’s early season struggles, but she also has not hit three-pointers with same efficiency as she has previous seasons– 29% from three this season vs. 30.8% her junior season and 37.5% her sophomore season.
However, Melgoza has responded like a big-time player should, focusing more on other aspects of her game when she is not scoring — e.g., by assisting her teammates or getting key rebounds.
Against California, however, Melgoza seemed to have a breakthrough as she imposed her will as a scorer early.
Melgoza had 18 first half points without attempting a single three-pointer, instead going to work in the post and mid-range areas — Melgoza even began the game hitting seven straight shots.
It shows incredible maturation that Melgoza can successfully tweak her game on the fly in the middle of the season.
Melgoza is exhibiting good leadership by demonstrating to teammates her willingness to do whatever it takes to win.
When Needed Missy Peterson Can Be Clutch In Multiple Ways
Missy Peterson scored eight points against California but her impact was much bigger.
Peterson finished with 5 assists, 3 rebounds and 1 steal in 33 minutes.
Most important, Missy went to work when Amber Melgoza was struggling and/or on the bench in the second half.
In the third quarter, Peterson threw an assist to Quay Miller under the basket; later she made a jumper of a California turnover; and also recorded a steal.
At the start of the fourth quarter, with Washington clinging to a two-point (52-50)) lead, Peterson stepped up and made a jumper in the lane; and then threw an assist to Mai-Loni Henson for a layup.
Peterson’s clutch plays settled the Huskies down as they had to defend their slim lead against a California surge.
Missy demonstrated the ability to sense what the Huskies need at any given moment and then seek to personally fulfill that need.
Quay Miller is Improving Defensively, Has Potential as a Dynamic Defender
A beautiful left-handed block of a Cal shooter’s three-point attempt served notice that something was different.
Miller had to scramble from the extended elbow area to the right-side deep corner to prevent the open look three.
Quay’s decision to block with her left hand is the type of advanced defensive decision that sounds easy in practice (pun intended) but is quickly ffg forgotten by most players in the heat of battle.
Simply put, if it was so easy everyone would do it — and everyone definitely is not doing it.
Prior to the block, Miller guarded the passer on a baseline out-of-bounds play and deflected the inbounds pass with her quick hands.
In fact, there were multiple instances during the game where Quay used her quick hands to deflect California passes.
If Miller is starting to recognize her potential as a disruptive defender, she can boost the Huskies elite defense even higher, as well as Coach Wynn’s confidence in her.
Mai-Loni Henson is still giving the Huskies a Hard Edge When Needed
Senior Mai-Loni Henson continued to provide value to Coach Wynn and the Huskies by providing a balanced all-around performance against California.
Henson scored 9 points and added 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 22 minutes.
Like Peterson, Henson stepped up in the second half.
In the third quarter, Henson threw an assist to Melgoza in the lane for a turnaround jumper.
Henson also got open for a layup (assisted by Haley Van Dyke) as time was running out in the third.
In the fourth period, Mai-Loni pulled down 3 rebounds and added a steal and an assist.
Henson’s aggressiveness on offense when the Huskies were clinging to a slim lead was key.
Besides springing herself free for a layup under the basket (assisted by Peterson), Mai-Loni drew a foul on a made layup and on a fastbreak.
Henson’s fingerprints were all over the Huskies winning effort.
Coach Wynn’s 10-Woman Rotation is Cool but She is Increasingly Rewarding Players Who are Performing
Although Jody Wynn played her usual ten player rotation (T.T. Watkins was out), Coach Wynn played 5 players over 20 minutes each — Amber Melgoza (33 minutes); Missy Peterson (33 minutes); Haley Van Dyke (27 minutes); Khayla Rooks (23 minutes); and Mai-Loni Henson (22 minutes);
Only Melgoza, Peterson and Henson were starters, so at any given moment Wynn gave the most minutes to the players she felt gave Washington the best chance to win the game.
All five of these takeaways are positives that should result in more winning efforts for the Huskies going forward.