The Huskies are still looking for a consistent offensive threat to complement Amber Melgoza. Lately, Alexis Griggsby appears to have stepped up her game, and her deadly perimeter shooting could be huge for UW against Colorado on Friday.
Weeks ago, Jody Wynn struggled to find any positives after one of the most lopsided losses in the 45-year history of the Washington women’s basketball team.
After sifting through the debris of a 103-56 defeat to No. 4 Mississippi State, Wynn singled out Alexis Griggsby, a sophomore reserve who piled up a team-high 11 points mostly in garbage time.
“It was good to see Lexi … play the way that (she) did,” Wynn said. “That will hopefully continue to encourage (her) to keep working and getting in the gym and keep believing that (she) can be a good piece to our family.”
The next game, Griggsby didn’t attempt a shot during a scoreless, 12-minute performance against Washington State.
Nonetheless, Wynn never lost confidence and remembered the 5-foot-9 guard was one of the best players during preseason workouts before an ankle injury forced her to miss a few weeks and the first two games of the season.
Needing a spark to jump-start an offense that ranks near the bottom of the Pac-12 in scoring (69.5 points per game) and three-point shooting (28.9 percent), Wynn gave Griggsby her first start of the season – and fifth in her career – last week at No. 5 Oregon.
“We’re searching for consistent performers and I thought it was her turn to get that start,” Wynn said. “And she ran with it.”
During an 84-71 loss, Griggsby responded with a personal best 26-point performance that matched her season total through 11 games. She also converted 6 of 11 three-pointers and 10 of 16 field goals –both career highs – in 26 minutes.
Two days later, Griggsby knocked down 5 of 7 three-pointers for 15 points in a 78-67 defeat at No. 11 Oregon State.
So what led to the breakout performances?
“My teammates just trusting in me and believing in me to make the shots,” Griggsby said. “Coaches believing in me to make shots. My teammates screening to get me open to get the shots off. It’s an all-around collective effort for me to get my shots off.”
Griggsby’s offensive fireworks couldn’t have come at a better time for Washington (7-8, 0-3 Pac-12), which has lost five straight heading into Friday’s 7 p.m. matchup against Colorado (10-4, 0-3) at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Since Wynn’s arrival last season, the Huskies have desperately searched for consistent scorers to support all-Pac-12 guard Amber Melgoza, who ranks fifth in the conference with a 19.5 scoring average.
Melgoza has led Washington in scoring in 13 of 15 games and no other UW player averages more than 10 points per game.
“This can’t be just the Amber show,” Wynn said earlier this season. “We’ve been looking for 1, 2 or 3 more players to get a little more consistent (scoring) so teams can’t just load up on Amber.
“I don’t know who it’s going to be. At times its been Missy (Peterson). Jenna (Moser) has had some nice games. And Hannah (Johnson) and Mai-Loni (Henson). It could be anybody and we’ve seen that.”
Last week, it was Griggsby.
Admittedly, she wasn’t ready to contribute much last season.
“That mental game that you have a freshman, you kind of feel like sometimes you don’t belong,” said Griggsby, who averaged 5.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 17.7 minutes last season. “You’re doing the little things, but you feel like the little things don’t get noticed as much.”
And an ankle injury ruined what had been a promising performance in preseason practices.
“In the month of October she was an outright starter,” Wynn said. “She was one of our most consistent performers. … And it went away after the ankle sprain.
“Pretty bad ankle sprain sat her out for a few weeks and just really never got her groove back. Lost confidence and just battled through the confidence struggle throughout November and December. You knew it was there, it was just hidden under a few layers.”
Griggsby said: “When shooters can’t get that shot to fall it kinda of just puts you in a little rut. But I was able to get out of it.”
After tallying 52 points against UW’s three ranked opponents, Griggsby deflects the extra attention she’s garnered for her offensive exploits.
“I’m just coming out here to play and do the best for our team,” she said. “ I’m not a person that needs all the praise.”
However, Griggsby will likely land on opposing teams’ scouting reports considering she’s connected on 11 of 18 three-pointers (61.1 percent) against Pac-12 opponents.
“It’s nice to have her energy and her confidence,” Wynn said. “She might not be the fastest, she might not be the biggest, she might not be the strongest and she might not be the most athletic, but she’s going to do little things for us that helps us on both sides of the ball.”