Huskies' Season Comes To Close At The Hands Of Creighton
March 21, 2004
SEATTLE - Despite a combined 51 points and 16 rebounds from seniors Giuliana Mendiola and Andrea Lalum, the Huskies saw their season come to a close Sunday with a 74-69 loss to Creighton in the Sweet 16 of the Women's National Invitation Tournament at Bank of America Arena.
For Washington (18-13), the loss brought to an end not only the 2003-04 season, but the careers of Lalum and sisters Giuliana and Gioconda Mendiola. During the seniors' four-year careers, Washington never won fewer than 18 games - a run unmatched by any Husky class since 1991 - and made four postseason appearances, including two NCAA Tournament bids and a run to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2000.
Lalum and Giuliana Mendiola were at their best in the 2004 postseason, with each topping the 20-point plateau in both WNIT games. Lalum finished with 23 points Sunday, while Mendiola had 28, to go along with nine rebounds and six assists. Angie Janis led all scorers for Creighton (21-9) with 22, while Laura Spanheimer added 21 for the Blue Jays.
Trailing by two with just under 10 minutes to play, Mendiola took the game into her own hands. The senior hit a turnaround jumper in the lane to tie the score at 54-54 with 8:48 to play - marking the first time the Huskies hadn't trailed since late in the first half - and held off a series of Blue Jays' runs with 12 consecutive Husky points, keeping the game close, at 64-61, entering the final minute.
A three-point play by Janis extended Creighton's lead to six, but a quick three by Mendiola cut the deficit to three, at 67-64. With time running down, however, the Huskies were forced to foul, and the Blue Jays hit seven of eight free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the win.
Mendiola, who had just seven points at halftime, scored 21 of Washington's 36 second-half points, including 15 of the team's final 17 overall. Only one other Husky scored at all in the final 9:28 of the contest - a layin by Breanne Watson with 22 seconds remaining, off an assist by Mendiola.
'I'm just unbelievably proud of this group,' said head coach June Daugherty. 'I don't think there's a finer group of young people who have come through here and done what they have done. It would have been great to go deeper in the postseason, but they did everything that they could. Their leadership will be the strongest part of the legacy that they'll leave behind.'
Despite the graduation of the three seniors, Washington returns an outstanding corps of players in 2004-05, including three who started at least eight games this season.