Monday, March 25, 2013
SEATTLE — Washington guard Kristi Kingma was the last player to touch the ball Sunday at Alaska Airlines Arena.
It was a shagged rebound after the final buzzer of an 85-78 loss to Pacific in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. Kingma let the ball dribble from her hands, then clapped them in frustration.
It was not the way she wanted to cap five seasons as a Huskies basketball player.
“You’re almost speechless,” Kingma said afterward. “What is there to say? How do you recap, in my case, five years? How do you say thank you or good luck? You can’t.”
Kingma’s final game mirrored UW’s season.
Kingma and the Huskies started fast, defended well and shot an impressive 51.4 percent from the field in the opening half to lead by as many as 16 points with 4:05 before the break. Kingma had 17 points at halftime and finished with 21.
But UW’s defense weakened in the second half, giving Pacific some easy jump shots. The Tigers steadily moved back until seniors Kendall Rodriguez (27 points) and Erica McKenzie (18) were making three-pointers from NBA range. McKenzie’s three with 2:50 remaining gave the Tigers an 81-65 lead.
Kingma keyed one last push by Washington. She made a pair of free throws and a layin in a 12-0 UW run that closed the Tigers’ lead to 81-77 with 48 seconds left.
But UW sophomore Jazmine Davis and redshirt freshman Talia Walton missed three-pointers, and Pacific (27-7) advanced to the Sweet 16 to play the winner of Monday’s Utah-San Diego game.
Pacific shot 62.1 percent in the second half.
“Our defense was terrible in the second half,” said UW coach Kevin McGuff. “It’s very disappointing. ... We really didn’t play well at the end of the year. The past month we haven’t been as sharp.”
Washington (21-12) lost six of its final eight games. The Huskies’ offense was inconsistent and, with just two seniors, their youth began to show late — just like in Sunday’s game.
Kingma, who will undergo surgery on her left knee in the offseason, looked spry in the first half, making shots that were staples before she had surgery on her right knee in September 2011.
But Davis, the team’s leading scorer this season, was cold. She finished with 12 points on 4-of-19 shooting. Walton scored 15 on 5-of-17 shooting. Sophomore Aminah Williams was the most consistent Husky with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
McGuff put senior Jeneva Anderson in the game with 2:03 left and Washington down 13 points. The forward’s defensive strength helped the Huskies make a late surge.
“We came out with a point to prove, even though it didn’t end in our favor,” Williams said. “I would sum up our season as saying we fought down to the wire.”
Just like Sunday.