SEATTLE — While two of her best inside players sat on the bench with injuries, Washington coach Tia Jackson patched together a lineup that gave the Huskies a lead over Clemson midway through the second half Sunday.
Then, in a three-minute span, it all unraveled in the championship game of the Husky Classic women’s basketball tournament at Bank of America Arena.
Clemson went on a 13-0 run and outscored UW 35-15 in the final 10 minutes, beating the Huskies 85-67.
Already without 6-foot-3 senior Heidi McNeill, whose status is day-to-day because of a bruised thigh, the Huskies lost 6-2 junior Laura McLellan in the first half with a sprained left ankle. Also unavailable was 6-3 freshman Mackenzie Argens because of a knee injury.
McLellan was battling for position inside early in the game when she dropped to her knees, then rolled in pain under the basket. She tried to play later in the half but was limping noticeably.
“As soon as I saw her move on the court, I knew there was no chance,” Jackson said. “We’ve got 20-some games left. I’m not going to chance anything.”
Without her two most experienced inside players, Jackson improvised with her lineup.
Freshman Mollie Williams came off the bench and produced 12 points and eight rebounds, and Jackson even shifted guards Michelle Augustavo and Sara Mosiman to the post.
Despite their issues, the Huskies nearly pulled it off.
Behind by as many as 10 points in the first half, they rallied late and led 35-34 at halftime. Long-range shooting was the key, particularly from Augustavo. She had 13 points at the half, nine of them on 3-pointers.
The teams traded the lead four times early in the second half before Clemson changed its defense and the Huskies went cold.
“We did it to take their shooters out,” Clemson coach Christy McKinney said. “We wanted to see if it would mess them up a little bit.”
After Williams scored to give the Huskies a 52-50 lead with 10:23 left in the game, UW missed five straight shots, including three from 3-point range.
Clemson, 5-2, rebounded those misses and used its speed on the fast break to bolt ahead of the Huskies. Lele Hardy scored twice and also had two rebounds, one steal and an assist during the 13-0 run. Hardy, a 5-10 junior, finished with 22 points and was named the tournament MVP.
“They were very, very aggressive defensively,” Jackson said. “We got very good looks but we didn’t nail them.”
The Huskies, 2-3, play at Pepperdine on Wednesday with another chance to record the 650th victory in the history of the women’s program. After a day off today, the Huskies will have only one practice to find replacements for the injured post players.
“We’ve just got to get them reps so they can feel confident about the position that they’re in,” Jackson said.
Augustavo, who scored 42 points against Clemson three years ago when she played at San Diego State, finished with 15. Sami Whitcomb led the Huskies with 18 and Kristi Kingma, a 5-10 freshman guard from Jackson High School, scored 10.
Augustavo was named to the all-tournament team, along with Hardy, Whitney Hood of Clemson, Breanna Sailey of Seattle University and Anna Kowalski of Kent State.
Kent State overcame a 13-point deficit at halftime and forced overtime, then outscored Seattle University 13-1 in the extra period to win the consolation game 89-77.
Sailey scored a team-high 17 points and Tatiana Heck, a sophomore from Mountlake Terrace, had five points and six rebounds for Seattle U., which fell to 1-3. Kent State is 4-1.