BERKELEY, Calif. — Amber Melgoza topped off a 31-point scoring night with two key buckets to lift Washington to a 67-64 victory at California in Pac-12 women’s basketball action Friday.
With 1:01 left in the game, Melgoza nailed a three-pointer to tied the score at 64-64. Then with 15 seconds left, he layup put the Huskies (10-3, 2-0 Pac-12) up for good at 66-64.
Mai-Loni Henson of UW hit a free throw with six seconds left to close out the scoring
California freshman Jazlen Green, who sat out eight minutes of the second half after taking a hard fall on a rebound late in the third quarter, returned to drain a go-ahead three-pointer to give the Bears (8-4, 0-1) a 62-61 lead with 1:28 to play. Fellow freshman Evelien Lutje Schipholt then blocked a shot at the other end, corralled the rebound and was fouled. She hit both ensuing free throws to give Cal a 64-61 lead with 1:14 remaining.
But then it was Melgoza time. She finished the game13 of 25 shooting from the field. The three-pointer with 1:01 left was her only three-pointer on the night off three attempts. She was a perfect 4-for-4 at the line. She also tied for a team high with five rebounds.
“This was a tough one,” said Charmin Smith, in her first year coaching the Bears. “Obviously, we’re disappointed. I think we showed a ton of fight but we’re still disappointed we couldn’t come away with a win. At the end of the day, we got back in the game and took the lead but just couldn’t finish it off.”
The Huskies hurt the Bears early with a tenacious full-court press and a trapping zone defense that caused Cal to shoot just 25 percent from the floor and commit 10 turnovers. But after trailing 36-24 at halftime, the Bears began to slice into the deficit with a zone defense of their own and some inspired play by seniors Jaelyn Brown and CJ West.
Cal still trailed 50-40 with under two minutes to play in the third quarter but went on an 18-6 run to take a 57-56 lead with 5:09 left. The comeback was culminated by a 3-point play by senior Sara Anastasieska. The Huskies went back up 61-58 before Green and Lutje Schipholt strung together key plays to put the Bears back in front.
“They are a very good team and they pressure and trap very well, but I think we were rushing and playing really fast,” said West, who finished with 12 points and four rebounds. “I don’t think we were very patient.”
After Melgoza gave Washington a 66-64 lead with 15 seconds remaining, Green got a good look at a three-pointer but couldn’t convert. And after Henson’s free throw, Green’s potential game-tying three-pointer was off the mark to end it.