Kelsey McKinnis drew a foul and went to the free-throw line with 15 seconds left and a chance to tie 10th-ranked Lewis and Clark with a pair of makes.
McKinnis’ 83 percent mark at the line in her four years at the University of Puget Sound is third highest in school history. She sank the first, which put her at 7-for-7 for the game.
“I was just trying to think ‘It’s just a free throw, I’ve shot thousands of them,’ ” McKinnis said.
But she missed the second.
The Loggers were forced to foul, and still had a chance to tie or win when they got the ball back with 5.8 seconds left, but they didn’t get off a shot and fell, 76-74, to the No. 2-ranked team in the west region.
The loss comes almost one month after UPS (12-10, 5-8 Northwest Conference) suffered a 58-56 loss to the Pioneers (20-2, 11-2) at Lewis and Clark.
“Kelsey is feeling really upset right now,” UPS coach Loree Payne said. “But there were so many other possessions that we could have utilized that we didn’t throughout the game.”
Kristina Williams led the Pioneers with a game-high 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. She had eight boards in the first half (six offensive). She entered the game leading the NWC in scoring (18.4) and was third in rebounding (8.9).
But the Loggers contained Williams in the second half and were able to lead throughout most of it because of their concentrated rebounding effort. UPS went on a 10-1 run the first five minutes of the second half and led 50-43 with 12:50 to go after a basket from Katy Ainslie.
But Lewis and Clark crept back in front at the free-throw line. The teams combined to shoot 12 free throws in the first half and 45 in the second.
UPS cut Lewis and Clark’s lead to 74-73 following a great spin move and left-handed scoop shot from Amanda Forshay, and the Loggers forced a turnover on the ensuing in-bounds pass to get the ball back underneath their hoop.
McKinnis, who led the Loggers with 17 points, got the pass below the basket and missed a shot in traffic. Williams grabbed the rebound and was fouled. She made the first but missed the second, leaving UPS down 75-73.
McKinnis drove to the basket and drew a foul, but that’s when the normally clutch free-throw shooter split at the line.
“A win against a nationally ranked team can make a season,” said McKinnis, who is two points shy of Julie Vanni for sixth place on UPS’ all-time scoring list. “But they really capitalized on our mistakes and they really did that against us on the boards.”
The Loggers scored the first seven points of the game and challenged the Pioneers throughout, despite coming in without any postseason aspirations.
“It’s so easy to get on your heels against a team like that with a national rank and sitting on top of the conference,” McKinnis said. “But we really came out as the aggressor, especially out of halftime, and that’s what kept us in the game.
“But basketball is about 40 minutes. You can’t just win one half.”
At Willamette 59, Pacific Lutheran 54: The Lutes squandered a nine-point lead with 5-for-26 shooting in the second half, and were upended at Cone Fieldhouse in Salem, Ore.
Willamette’s Deana Mau broke a 52-52 tie with a 3-pointer with 1:26 remaining. The Lutes (6-13, 3-10) had a couple of chances to tie it in the final minute, but made just four of eight free throws.
At Puget Sound 92, Lewis and Clark 85: Derek Jobe went off on the Pioneers, scoring a season-high 36 points to lead the Loggers to victory after holding off a late Lewis and Clark comeback attempt.
Jobe came into the game averaging just under 10 points a game, but he hit five 3-pointers in the first half (eight total) and helped the Loggers take a 20-point lead into halftime.
The Pioneers scored 57 points in the second half, but UPS (9-13, 4-9) held on to earn its third straight victory.
PLU 72, at Willamette 55: Cameron Schilling scored 23 points, and Andrew Earnest added 20 as the Lutes shot 55.2 percent from the floor in dismantling the Bearcats in Salem.
PLU (7-15, 5-8) led the whole way, jumping out to a 23-8 lead in the first nine minutes, getting 3-pointers from Schilling, Earnest and Johnny Tveter.