For the first time ever, the Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament sold out—twice. For both the Washington State vs. Stanford and the Washington vs. Oregon games, 9,686 people filled the very narrow Key Arena seats. Good job, Seattle! The Key was on fire last night, the energy was palpable, and once again we saw some great basketball.
Unfortunately, the result was not what Dawg fans anticipated.
The first quarter started nicely, with Natalie Romeo hitting a wide-open 3-point shot. Everyone seemed confident, but that was not to last. For every basket the Huskies made, Oregon answered.
Freshman Sabrina Ionescu was hot from behind the 3-point line and gashed the Huskies for 18 points. The biggest killer, though, was junior guard Lexi Bando, who led the Ducks with 23 points. She ran off an impressive 11 points during a 4-minute period in the 4th quarter to get the Ducks within striking distance. The Ducks ended the game 26 of 65 (40%) from 2-point, 11 of 23 from 3-point (47.8%), and 7 of 8 (87.5%) from the line.
The Huskies had a surprisingly different result with their offense. They had a higher FG percentage, 29 of 68 (42.6%), but what killed the Huskies was their lack of 3-point shots made, 5 of 24 (20.8%). And surprisingly, they missed their free throws, 6-11 (54.5%). You can see from these startling statistics the Huskies fought hard, making lots of attempts, but couldn’t get a thing to drop.
Kelsey Plum was still a superstar, ending the game with 34 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. In the third quarter, with 5:08 remaining, she made her 1,000th point of the season, making her the third female player in NCAA history to accomplish this.
Chantel Osahor had a Pac-12 Tournament-record 27 rebounds, and completed the game with 12 points and six assists. Chantel stumbled at the free throw line, making only 2 of 6 (33.3%). This is very unusual for Chantel, a 70% free throw shooter.
Early in the game you could tell there was a big difference in intensity between the two teams. The Huskies came out and scored like normal, but they couldn’t defend Oregon’s two scoring machines. Sitting in the stands, I watched Oregon’s shooters get wide-open shots. It was apparent that the Huskies were going to have a difficult time.
There was some questionable refereeing as well, with the most egregious error being at the end of the game. With 3.9 seconds left, Kelsey Plum shot from the top of the key and was fouled by three people. No call.
It was a heartbreaking ending and I have to admit I felt a little cheated.
The result was certainly not what Husky fans wanted, but it was well fought. And even though the team said they felt like they let the fans down, I don’t feel let down. Sometimes you have bad games, and the Huskies had a clunker when it came to making the important shots.
What I thought was the big difference maker was not just the offensive production, but our complete inability to defend Oregon’s two star shooters. And the most frustrating thing was there were no defensive adjustments. In the fourth quarter when Lexi Bando went on her shooting spree, I was screaming for someone to change up the defense. It was a nightmare type of déjà vu. The Ducks ran the same offensive play over and over, scoring fairly easily, and the Huskies had absolutely no answer.
So the Huskies lost, and they have to prepare for the NCAA tournament. With their record of 27-5 they should get a 3-seed.
Last year the Huskies surprised the nation with a great run in the NCAA tournament, ending their run with a Final Four appearance. The question being: are they good enough for a repeat performance? I think they are. However, the supporting cast to Plum and Osahor needs to find a way to contribute more. Kelsey will try her hardest to make a basket against five defenders, and sometimes she will succeed, but that certainly is not a recipe for success.