The Washington women’s basketball team waited more than 32 minutes during Sunday’s 55-50 loss to Colorado to unleash its trademark full-court press and ball-hawking defense that nearly turned the game in its favor.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, they trailed by 17 points before finally flipping a switch defensively while connecting on several clutch baskets during one last frenetic flurry.
“Obviously, we turned up the intensity defensively,” coach Jody Wynn said. “It’s really hard for us to play that style this season without all of our team practicing. We have to preserve bodies as much as we can and it’s difficult to play that style that people are more familiar with us defensively. It was unfortunate that we got into a hole.”
The Huskies (6-12, 3-12 Pac-12) closed to within two points in the final 2½ minutes, but went cold from the field the rest of the way and suffered a disappointing defeat on Senior Day in front of a small gathering of fans at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Playing their final home game of the season, Tameiya Sadler finished with a game-high-tying 17 points, Haley Van Dyke had 16 points and seven rebounds while Darcy Rees chipped in 14 points.
The Huskies never led and spent most of the game attempting to recover from a slow start. Washington was down 13-9 after the first quarter and fell behind 23-13 with 2:13 remaining in the second.
Trailing 25-18 at halftime, the Huskies missed five of their first six shots in the third quarter and gave up a 12-2 run to allow the Buffaloes to take a 37-20 lead with 5:39 left in the period.
Washington fell behind by 17 points (45-28) once again early in the fourth quarter before briefly taking control of the game with a 17-2 run spurred by a trapping, full-court press.
“They’re not quitters,” Wynn said. “They’re not quitters in life. They persevered through a whole heckuva lot this year. I couldn’t even imagine being a college student, especially a student-athlete in this day and time.
“They showed their fight throughout the game today. It didn’t surprise me of their fight to the end.”
Sadler capped the spurt with a three-pointer to beat the 30-second shot clock that cut UW’s deficit to 47-45 with 2:14 left.
However, the Huskies were outscored 8-5 the rest of the way as the Buffaloes converted 8 of 8 free throws in the final two minutes.
Wynn bemoaned a free-throw disparity in which CU connected on 11 of 13 at the line while UW was 5 of 6.
“Not having a starter get to the free-throw line is shocking,” Wynn said.
Washington’s inability to draw fouls as well as 28.2% shooting on field goals, including 2 of 19 on three-pointers in the first three quarters resulted in a 17-point deficit in the fourth.
In the final period, the Huskies outscored the Buffaloes 24-16 while nearly matching their scoring production (26) in the first three quarters. Washington shot 9 of 12 from field and 3 of 6 behind the arc in the fourth.
Frida Formann tallied 17 points and six rebounds while Mya Hollingshed had 12 points for Colorado (10-9, 8-8).
Washington wraps up the regular season next Sunday at Washington State.
The Huskies had three players — Khayla Rooks, Alexis Griggsby and Missy Peterson — participate in postgame Senior Day festivities, which included video tributes from family and teammates.
Peterson, who missed the season with a knee injury, is expected to return next season.
Weeks ago, Wynn was unsure if Rooks or Griggsby would be back. The NCAA has granted all winter sports athletes an extra year of eligibility at their current school due to this coronavirus-abbreviated season.
Wynn praised Rooks and Griggsby as “high IQ basketball players” and thanked them for their leadership on and off the court during what has been a difficult season. Washington posted a 37-52 record during their careers.
“They’ve been through a lot together,” Wynn said. “Their maturity and their leadership qualities are things that are going to serve them well into life outside of college when they’re breaking down barriers and fighting through the glass ceiling if you will.
“They’re great students. They have desires to help our world whether its law school, Lexi wants to be a lawyer and Khayla wants to get into homicide detective work. They’re both very bright. They’re selfless. They’re not me-first kind of kids. They’re great teammates and they’re going to be very valuable contributors to our society.”