Wolverines down Huskies at the Wire

The Washington women lost a heartbreaker in the final seconds to the Michigan Wolverines Sunday afternoon, 71-70, after the Huskies had held a five-point lead with just over three minutes to go.

Center LeeAnn Bies knocked down two free throws with 10.3 seconds remaining to give Michigan a one-point lead. Michigan called timeout to regroup for Washington's final possession.

Coming out of the timeout, Husky point guard Giuliana Mendiola quickly brought the ball the length of the court. The Wolverines swarmed her to deny penetration, and Mendiola found Loree Payne open in the corner for an 18-foot jumper. Payne, who'd already scored 23 points on a school-record seven three-pointers, missed long. Kellie O'Neill's put-back after a weak-side rebound fell short as the final buzzer sounded.

The Huskies stood shell-shocked, unwilling to believe what had transpired in the final minutes of play.

"I thought we got a super look," said Washington Head Coach June Daugherty of the Payne's final attempt, "it just didn't fall."

Payne admitted that she thought the ball was going in when it left her hand.

"My shot happened to be on tonight and it felt good," the junior Payne said. "It just happened to be a little long."

Washington had fought from behind for much of the second half to tie the game at 60 with 5:37 remaining on Payne's sixth three-ball of the game. A five-foot jumper by Kellie O'Neill and another trey from Payne, this one a good two feet behind the arc, capped a 10-0 Washington run and made it 65-60 with 3:26 remaining.

With the season-high crowd of 3,311 on their feet and making things difficult for the Wolverines, the visitors from the mid-west fought through the adversity and regained momentum in the final minutes.

Sophomore Stephanie Gandy found Bies wide open under the basket on the next UM possession, and the center put it home to draw to within three. The Huskies called timeout, and Daugherty set up a play for center Andrea Lalum under the hoop. It worked to perfection as the sophomore from Montana broke open and laid it in off the inbounds pass.

Again down five, Michigan got a break when the Huskies inexplicably left Alayne Ingram open in the corner for a three-pointer. The senior had already hit two of three long-range shots before that attempt, and this one hit nothing but nylon to make it a slim 67-65 game.

The Wolverines pulled ahead riding the back of Bies, who finished with a career-high 27 points on 9-15 shooting from the field. At 6-3, she was simply too much to contain, and Michigan went to her. Bies hit two free throws after being fouled by Kellie O'Neill to knot the game at 67, then nailed a six-foot leaner, again over O'Neill, to give UM the lead back.

The Huskies wouldn't go down without a fight, and like a classic boxing match responded with a blow of their own when Lalum hit a wide-open three pointer to make it 70-69 with 45 seconds remaining. The shot looked like it came off her hand a bit too high, but still managed to rainbow down through the basket.

Michigan took possession and moved the ball around before freshman Tabitha Pool attempted a 17-footer from the right angle. The shot clanged sharply off the rim, but Bies beat Washington's Payne to the ball and Michigan called a timeout with 13 seconds left, down one.

Coming out of the timeout, Bies again got the ball inside the paint and went straight to the rack before getting fouled by Lalum. That set up the two final pressure-packed free throws that Bies nailed, seemingly with ease.

"Bies has ice in her veins," said Guevara of her starting center after the game. "It's her job to get the line 10 times a game."

And that she did, hitting 9-10 attempts for the contest.

Six-foot, three-inch center Jennifer Smith chipped in 14 points and nine rebounds and Ingram added 13 points for Michigan's cause.

Washington was led by Payne's 23, but Lalum wasn't far behind with 19. The second-year center also pulled down 10 rebounds for her third double-double of the season.

"This was a great college game and the thing that would have made it better was if we won and hit the shot at the end," said Daugherty. "I'm very proud of our team and we played a great weekend of basketball. We definitely stepped it up as a team. Unfortunately we didn't get a win, but to me you have to walk away from (this) defeat encouraged because that was a very good team."

The first half was played much like the second, as both teams played completely different brands of basketball. The Huskies shot the lights out from the outside while the Wolverines punished the home team with the inside presence of Bies and Smith. The tall tandem combined for 19 first-half points to lead UM. Nevertheless, Washington's 6-18 shooting from behind the arc helped the Huskies take a 40-36 lead heading into the half.

The hot-shooting Huskies went cold from the outside after intermission, and that proved to be too much to overcome. While the Wolverines banged hard inside and drew 22 free throw attempts for the game, the Huskies continued to fire away from long-range, shooting just 31 percent in the second half while only attempting seven free throws in the contest.

In the process they were abused on the glass, pulling down only 35 rebounds to Michigan's 50.

"At halftime I saw that Washington had taken 18 three pointers and I told my assistants that there was no way they would duplicate that in the second," Guevara said after the game.

"Wrong," she said with amazement after Washington fired up 18 more in the second half to finish with 36 attempts for the game.
Game Notes:

The Century Mark: With the win, Michigan Head Coach Sue Guevara recorded her 100th victory at UM.

Wolverine turned Husky: Washington assistant coach Shimmy Gray played at Michigan in the early 90's, but today she was on the Husky bench.

Once a Dawg, Always a Dawg: Former Husky guards Megan Franza and Jamie Redd were both at the game. Redd was dressed to impress and signed autographs at halftime for the fans. Franza stayed long after the game and tutored a young girl with her dribbling skills once everyone had cleared out of the building.

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