OTTUMWA — Washington head coach Phil Long has repeatedly said his squad is destined to be in close games this year because it doesn’t have a lot of offensive fire power, but makes up for it by working hard.
Five games into the season the team has already played in two overtime games and two games decided by 1 point.
The latest was a 48-47 win over Ottumwa, Tuesday to snap a two-game losing streak, after Ottumwa missed two shots that could have won the game.
“We have brand-new orange uniforms and have lost two times in them on the road,” Long said. “We were able to sneak out a win. It has been a long time since I lost three games in a row.”
After trailing 12-16 at the end of one quarter, Washington took a 22-21 lead into the break.
“The kids have battled back being down 4 in the first quarter,” Long said. “It was a 3- or 4-point for us the rest of the way.”
Then Washington had its highest scoring quarter of the season as it exploded for 20 points, nearly matching its first half point total.
Washington managed to hold on to a 5-point lead for the win.
Sophomore Amber Salow and Grace Redlinger had 16 points, apiece.
Junior Stephanie Fishback and Redlinger had five boards, each.
Washington was strong defensively with 16 steals. There were four players with three steals, each.
Washington shot 8 of 16 from the charity stripe, a facet of the game that continues to cripple the Demons.
“We got great minutes from guard Rachel Hall and Dylann Schluetter,” Long said. “Morgan Kimball off the bench was great for us again to seal the game down the stretch.”
For the fifth-straight game Washington outrebounded their opponents 27-22 despite being undersized.
“I was really proud with the way that we limited the opportunities that Ottumwa got,” Long said.
Ottumwa senior Hayli Beeson knocked down three treys in the first quarter before Washington shut her down.
A lot of this had to do with constant full-court pressure from Fishback and Redlinger.
“I thought Stephanie Fishback and Grace kept themselves in the game without foul trouble,” Long said. “Redlinger was able to stay out of foul trouble and finish with 16 points.”
Senior guard Dema Giardino was a calming presence on the floor as she dictated the pace of the game.
“Dema did a real good job of controlling the tempo,” Long said. “She ran the offense and got us into our sets. It was probably one of the more complete games I have had out of my top eight kids in a while against a strong opponent.” Washington plays at West Branch at 6p.m., Saturday.