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Melgoza’s 32 not enough to continue UW’s Cinderella run

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After pulling a pair of upsets, the UW fell to Stanford in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament.

After two of the biggest upsets of the year against Utah and No. 11 Oregon State, the Washington women’s basketball team finally succumbed to No. 7 Stanford in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament, 72-61.

Despite a season-high 32 points from junior guard Amber Melgoza, the rest of the team couldn’t follow her lead on the offensive end. From three-point range, the Huskies knocked down just eight of their 26 attempts after knocking down 13 (tying a Pac-12 tournament record) against the Beavers on Friday night.

“We knew we were going to be challenged on both sides of the ball today,” head coach Jody Wynn said. “They make it difficult to take one thing away versus another.”

The Huskies (11-21, 2-15 Pac-12) got off to a slow start against the length of the Cardinal (27-4, 15-3 Pac-12), who held the Dawgs to just 10 points in the first frame and just three field goals. In the second quarter, it looked like it would be a repeat of the last time Washington played Stanford, but down 17, the Huskies went on another run.

Just like last night against Oregon State, the UW went on a huge run to end the first half, where a Melgoza shot pulled the Huskies within six points late in the second quarter. With four seconds on the clock, Stanford’s DiJonai Carrington pushed off a Husky defender and knocked in a three-pointer at the buzzer to put the Cardinal up nine at the half.

Wynn was visibly upset at the no-call, but the Dawgs still had another half to play.

In the third, the Huskies pulled within eight points, as Melgoza scored the first nine of the quarter for the UW, but Stanford answered every run. By the end of the frame, the Cardinal held a 61-46 advantage.

Despite huge fight from the Huskies, who just wouldn’t quit, they ultimately came up just short. But after a disappointing conference season, Washington put together one of the more memorable Pac-12 runs in recent memory.

“We won in a lot of ways this weekend,” Wynn said in her postgame radio interview. “I’m so proud of our focus, I’m so proud of our commitment to teamwork, and just never quitting. We never quit tonight.”

The Dawgs got major contributions the past two games from sophomore Missy Peterson, who was the second leading scorer of the tournament two games in. She was held to zero points tonight on 0-of-8 shooting, but she did pull down seven rebounds.

“The ball didn’t go in for Peterson tonight,” Wynn said. “But she was huge this weekend. For a sophomore I thought she’s gained quite a bit of experience and quite a bit of confidence heading into this offseason.”

The Huskies return just about every key contributor, including Peterson and leading scorer Melgoza, but lose seniors Jenna Moser and Hannah Johnson next year.

“We’re proud of the legacy that we get to leave,” Moser said, fighting back tears. “We’re thankful for the opportunity. And we talked about these memories overpowering any of the losses. It’s hard being a part of a program that’s being built. People don’t talk about that enough, it’s hard. We’re really proud of how far we’ve come, and I’m excited for the future of this program.”

Moser and Johnson will pass the torch over to Melgoza, who will be a senior next year and has already taken big steps in her development as a leader.

“I feel like we’re leaving the program in good hands,” Moser said. “We have a lot of young players who are going to contribute a lot in the future — character-wise and athletically. I’m excited for them.”

Reach Assistant Sports Editor Alec Dietz at Twitter: @AlecDietz

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