SEATTLE — Kelsey Patrick had been waiting four years for this night.
She just didn’t expect it to go like this.
The Kamiak High School graduate and Pepperdine University senior finally got to return to the area for a game against the University of Washington women’s basketball team, and the 70-51 loss to the Huskies was only part of the heartbreak. Two days before Tuesday night’s game, Patrick found out that she wouldn’t be starting for the Waves, marking the first time this season that she opened a game on the bench.
With about 50 friends and family members sitting close by, Patrick had to wait almost five minutes before checking into the game. Within three minutes, after getting whistled for her second foul, Patrick went back to the bench and stayed there for the entire first half.
“It wasn’t ideal,” the 6-foot-1 senior said after finishing with six points and one rebound in 17 minutes of action against UW on Tuesday night. “But I’m happy to be here, and I still feel loved. So it’s all good.
“It’s not how I imagined it, but it’s all good.”
While watching most of the first half from the Pepperdine bench, Patrick saw her team get off to a quick start before a familiar nemesis put the Waves in their place. UW senior Kristi Kingma, a former Jackson High star who played against Patrick multiple times in high school, scored 14 of her 17 points during the final 12 minutes of the first half. She helped spark a 21-4 run that left Pepperdine trailing 33-23 at halftime.
“That’s her,” Patrick said, adding that Kingma wished her luck after the game.
Kingma was one of three UW players to score 17 points in the win, but it was her scoring spurt over the final 12 minutes of the first half that really put the game out of reach.
“We kind of came out thinking we could cruise through the first half, and that wasn’t the case,” Kingma said, referring to a short-handed UW team that was trying to conserve its energy. “About halfway through, we started hitting shots, and then it got contagious.”
The Huskies (5-1) got off to a horrific start, missing their first seven 3-point attempts while turning the ball over seven times in the first 71/2 minutes, but they heated up to close out the first half with a 21-4 run.
Aminah Williams, who had 11 rebounds before halftime and 15 for the game, got into an offensive groove early in the second half, scoring 10 of her 17 points during the opening 81/2 minutes of that period to help the Huskies build up a 19-point lead.
With a career-high 17 points and 15 boards, Williams recorded her second double-double in a span of three games. She’s put up double-digit rebounding performances in three consecutive games, averaging 13.0 points and 14.3 boards per game in that span.
After playing bit roles in UW’s first two games, which saw the Huskies get out-rebounded by 20 or more boards in each of them, Williams has become quite a weapon for the Huskies.
“She’s really turned up her effort level and intensity,” McGuff said of the 6-foot senior from Seattle’s Kennedy High School. “She’s played with great energy. … I’ve been on her from Day 1, and it just seems like something clicked (recently).”
Said Kingma: “Aminah is the glue to our team right now. … Right now, Aminah is the one who’s getting the loose balls, getting the extra tips, and ultimately that’s what helps win games. Obviously, she’s a little undersized at the (power forward) position, but she’s the heart and soul of our team right now.”
The Huskies out-rebounded Pepperdine 43-24 on Tuesday, when the Waves’ rebounding leader had just four boards.
Patrick would have liked to have been a bigger part of that effort, but her minutes were limited in her first game at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
When asked about her decision to pull Patrick and two other starters from the lineup, Pepperdine coach Julie Rousseau called it a “coach’s decision.” She was quick to add that Patrick had “done nothing wrong” but did not elaborate other than to say that she was looking for the right combination.
Patrick, who started 16 conference games last season and was the Waves’ leading returning scorer, said the decision was made after Sunday’s practice.
“It’s a pretty hard hit to take,” the Mukilteo native said of hearing the news. “I’ve been starting since last year. But it isn’t my decision. It’s kind of beyond my control. You just do what you have to do.”
After the game, Patrick spent at least 30 minutes chatting and posing for photographs with a large following of friends and family who had traveled south to see the game.
“We didn’t get the win,” she said, “but it’s nice to have people that support you no matter what.”