It’s Monday morning and Washington isn’t dreaming. Last week’s small, but significant, look from reporters as worthy of a top-25 look still exists and UW remains in the upper half of Pac-12 standings.
Washington (17-6, 9-3 Pac-12) entered the weekend tied with then-No. 17 UCLA (19-4, 10-2) for third in the conference and receiving four points in the Associated Press top-25 poll. The Huskies still have four points despite losing to UCLA 65-61 and have solidified the fourth place in standings with a 61-58 win against Southern California (8-15, 5-7) on Sunday.
UW F Talia Walton was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week for her play inside for the Huskies. It’s her third nod this season.
While one of my peers dropped the Huskies out of consideration, I changed my mind. I consider the final five slots guest appearances for teams making noise who also have a good NCAA RPI ranking. I also try to put West Coast teams out there because, ahem, the East Coast is biased due to not being able to catch as many games as me.
I tried not to vote for Washington. NCAA tournament team? Yes. Top-25? Well, I can’t vote for San Diego State as originally thought because Washington beat them. The Aztecs (17-5, 8-1 Mountain West) also didn’t fare well against other Pac-12 teams in nonconference play. Thought about the Zags (20-5, 10-1 WCC), which does have a slightly higher NCAA RPI ranking, but I honestly think UW would beat them. And…goodness. If I’m searching this hard for a reason not to vote for Washington just vote for them.
As has been said many times, this team is on the rise and has some star-quality players. I’ll keep UW in the rankings if they sweep the Oregon schools as expected this week. We’ll all know if this glimmer is legit Feb. 23 when UW plays at No. 21 Colorado.
“They are playing with great identity and purpose,” UCLA coach Cori Close said of UW prior to its win in Seattle. “They know exactly who they are and what it takes for them to be successful. (Jazmine) Davis puts tons of pressure on defenses, (Kristi) Kingma stretches the floor out and I think (Talia) Walton is spectacular. They also have great complimentary pieces that play their role really well. They have our attention.”
The Buffs are two-games behind the Huskies in Pac-12 standings at 18-5, 7-5 but have a signature win in beating then-No. 8 Louisville 70-66 at home. UW defeated CU 75-67 at Alaska Airlines Arena last year behind 27 points from Davis. Below she joins F Aminah Williams in talking about the UCLA loss on Friday.
Elsewhere in the conference, Washington State (9-14, 5-7) had a four-game win streak snapped by UCLA on Sunday. Now Colorado (three), UCLA (six), No. 4 Stanford (eight), and No. 6 Cal (nine) are the teams with win streaks in the Pac-12. The Bruins host the Bay Area schools this week, so somebody’s run is going down.
Utah (13-10, 4-8), which started the season with promise, won its first consecutive games since December by beating Oregon and Oregon State this weekend. Junior post Taryn Wicijowski returned after missing the past three games with a torn meniscus in her right knee. Seattle native Cheyenne Wilson (Cleveland HS) scored eight points in Utah’s win against Oregon State (9-15, 3-9) on Sunday.
TV Alert: The heavy hitters are playing on the big stage Monday. No. 5 Duke (21-1, 11-0 ACC) is hosting No. 7 Maryland (19-3, 10-1) at 4 p.m. on ESPN2 followed by a Big East showdown between No. 10 Louisville (20-4, 8-2) at No. 2 Notre Dame (22-1, 10-0) at 6pm.