The Huskies, seeded sixth in the Oklahoma City Region, fell to 11th-seeded Miami, 86-80, as Adrienne Motley scored 30 points for the Hurricanes. Kelsey Plum and Talia Walton had 17 points apiece for UW, who were in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007.
IOWA CITY — The Washington women’s basketball team’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2007 turned out to be a brief one.
The Huskies, seeded sixth in the Oklahoma City Region, fell to 11th-seeded Miami, 86-80 on Friday. The Hurricanes advance to play third-seeded Iowa, which beat 14th-seeded American, 75-67.
Washington (23-10), playing its first game since March 6, was done in by an inconsistent first half coupled with the high-speed, high-efficiency transition game of the Hurricanes (20-12).
“I think maybe we were a little bit nervous,” Washington coach Mike Neighbors said. “Again, when you build this up the way we did for four years, we were all nervous, and I think it took some of us a little bit longer to get going.”
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Both the Huskies and the Hurricanes came out firing in the first half, showing full commitment to the transition game early on.
But Miami’s stifling post defense and more than a few missed shots from the Washington backcourt of Kelsey Plum and Jazmine Davis kept the momentum largely on the Hurricanes’ side through the game’s opening minutes.
Looking for a spark, Neighbors went to his bench and center Chantel Oshahor to boost his offense. She didn’t disappoint.
The 6-foot-2 sophomore drained back-to-back three-pointers to put the Huskies ahead 15-12 about 13 minutes in. She would finish the half 4 of 5 from the field with 11 points and 3 of 3 on three-pointers.
Oshahor was dialed in, but the rest of the Washington offense failed to find consistency shooting the ball, going just 9 of 34 through the first 20 minutes. Plum, the nation’s sixth-leading scorer, and Davis were a combined 4 of 16 from the field with 12 points in the first half. Plum finished with 17 points and Davis 16.
“I think if we could have shaken the nerves off a little earlier, that could have been the difference,” Neighbors said.
And while the Huskies settled down in the second half and even surged ahead, Miami’s fast-break capability was too much to contend with. Washington built a 65-60 lead with 7:21 to go after a three-pointer by Talia Walton, who finished with 17 points.
But Miami countered, pulling ahead for good, 73-71, on a jumper with 2:40 to go by Adrienne Motley, who had a game-high 30 points.
“They play extremely fast,” Walton said. “They have a lot of good players and good guards that can push the block and keep the tempo going throughout the entire game. They just executed very well tonight.”
In addition, the Hurricanes outrebounded the Huskies 46-40, including an enormous defensive board with 5.3 seconds left and Miami holding an 84-80 lead.
“It was still a (close) game at that point, and we go down and try to hit a three and instead they get that rebound,” Neighbors said. “That really changed the complexion of the game.”
And while the Washington senior class’ first foray into the NCAA tournament didn’t end in victory, the Husky upperclassmen were thrilled with the opportunity.
“I’m really proud of us,” said Davis, a senior who finished with 2,277 points in her career, tops in UW women’s basketball history. “I’m really proud of the way we played tonight, and I’m just glad we had the opportunity to play here.”
Iowa 75, American 67
Ally Disterhoft scored 18 points, freshman Whitney Jennings had 16 and third-seeded Iowa held off American in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Melissa Dixon had 15 points with four three-pointers for the Hawkeyes (25-7).
It wasn’t easy for Iowa, though. American (24-9) had the game tied at 36 at halftime, and the Hawkeyes needed a 15-6 run after the break to start feeling comfortable.