The 12th seeded Huskies hoped for the second consecutive season that they could upset Colorado in the Pac-12 tournament. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be as the 5th seeded Buffs were able to hold off a 2nd half rally from Washington and hold on for a 64-52 win. Nancy Mulkey led Washington with 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks to keep the Dawgs competitive but they finish their season 7-16 (2-12) in Coach Tina Langley’s first year.
It was an incredibly slow offensive start for both teams. Washington though couldn’t get anything done as they scored just one basket in the first 8 minutes. At least it was a 3-point make and the Dawgs added a second one to help end the scoring drought and trailed 12-8 at the end of the 1st quarter. Colorado had an astounding 10 offensive rebounds in the 1st half but Washington center Nancy Mulkey altered shot after shot to only give Colorado 2 second chance points in that time.
Things didn’t get all that much better in the 2nd quarter on either side as they finished an even 9-9 in the quarter. Colorado’s pressure defense flustered the Huskies as they made every single pass a challenge and every single Buff would’ve fouled out if this game had been reffed by a Pac-12 men’s crew. Washington adjusted somewhat and was able to make backdoor cuts for layup attempts using Colorado’s aggression against them. But there were also a multitude of throwaways and 3 times in the game UW turned it over on a 5-second call where they weren’t able to inbound the ball in time.
In that first half Colorado finished 1/12 on 3-point attempts while Nancy Mulkey had 4 blocks and 6 rebounds for the Huskies. Washington trailed 21-17 at the break.
Suddenly in the 2nd half though both teams remembered how to shoot. The game quickly became a 3-point shooting contest as they combined for 6 made 3’s over the course of 7 possessions late in the 3rd quarter as the lead flipped back and forth. Colorado went 5/7 from deep in the quarter after struggling so mightily in the first half.
That hot shooting largely continued for the Buffs in the 4th quarter. Washington pulled within a point at 52-51 with 3:45 left in the game on a 3-pointer by Lauren Schwartz. But from there the Husky offense ran out of gas while Colorado had a few more left in the tank. The Buffs got an offensive rebound and Frida Formann hit a corner 3 for her first points of the game with 1:52 left which put Colorado up by 6 and ended the Husky threat.
The end of the game though was marred by the injury with 2:41 left to former Husky Tameiya Sadler who transferred to Colorado this past offseason. Sadler was shoved in the back on incidental contact from a teammate going for a rebound and was badly shaken up. After several minutes on her back on the court (though fully conscious) surrounded by the training staff she was taken off in a stretcher. Both teams had players visibly shaken watching their current or former teammate in a considerable amount of pain. We’re of course wishing for the best for Tameiya.
Although Washington’s season ends with a pair of losses there were clear signs of optimism as the Huskies head to the offseason. After starting conference play with 11 straight losses Washington was able to defeat Arizona State and win at Berkeley. Then the Dawgs played #2 Stanford very close in Palo Alto and weren’t quite able to hold on as the Cardinal ended the game on a 10-0 run after UW had a 4-point lead with 3 minutes left. It was a similar situation today with another likely tournament team in Colorado ending the game on a 12-1 run over the final 3:45. Unfortunately 36-39 minutes of quality play isn’t always good enough in a rugged Pac-12 conference.
The lack of quality point guard play killed the Huskies today as they just struggled to make simple passes against Colorado’s aggressive defense. It was clear that a high level point guard who could take someone off the dribble and/or make passes over the top could’ve made a huge difference but there were too many turnovers (13) on critical possessions for UW to get it done in the end.
Next season the Huskies will lose starting center Nancy Mulkey who was 2nd on the team in points and rebounds while leading the way in blocks with 3.0 per game. Major contributors Missy Peterson and Alexis Griggsby also are out of eligibility although Griggsby missed the final 2/3rd of the season due to a knee injury.
Help is on the way behind the 14th rated recruiting class in the country for 2022. Washington is bringing in a trio of top-100 rated guards who can hopefully combine with double digit scoring returners Haley Van Dyke and Lauren Schwartz to rejuvenate the program under Coach Langley.