Buzzer-beater lifts Washington to victory
Updated: Friday March 16, 2001 9:45 PM
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- No matter what happens the rest of the tournament -- the rest of her career, really -- Loree Payne will always have her magical moment.
The sophomore guard hit a 15-foot jumper as the buzzer sounded Friday to lift No. 6 seed Washington to a 67-65 victory over No. 11 Old Dominion in the first round of the West Regional.
"It was awesome," Payne said. "I'd been feeling it all night. In this case, I caught it and it was a natural reaction to shoot, so I did."
It went in, and the Huskies (20-9) rushed off the bench and mobbed Payne, nearly toppling her onto press row, as they celebrated a triumphant return to the tournament after a two-year absence.
"If this is what it's all about, I want to come back every year," freshman Giuliana Mendiola said.
With 0.7 seconds remaining, Payne slithered out of a group of players lined up near the baseline and took an inbounds pass from Megan Franza. She spotted up and swished home the game winner to close a 20-point night.
"I've made some shots to win games," she said. "But never anything like this."
Washington advanced to play the winner of Friday night's game between No. 3 seed Florida and No. 14 Holy Cross.
No. 11 seed Old Dominion (21-9) trailed by as many as 10, but chipped away, and when Monique Coker hit a layup, the Lady Monarchs tied the game at 65 with 54 seconds remaining.
After a Washington turnover, Old Dominion had a chance for the go-ahead bucket, but lost the ball after shooting an air ball, then getting whistled for a shot-clock violation.
The Huskies brought the ball down, and Franza missed a 15-foot jumper. But the ball went out of bounds off Old Dominion. Franza tried to inbound the ball once, and nearly stepped in bounds, but called timeout before her foot came down. Washington huddled and set up its play. Then, Payne got her chance to be a hero.
"There were 0.7 seconds to go, and I wish we could have it back," Old Dominion coach Wendy Larry said. "We've seen that set many times before. We kind of got confused, and Payne got a wide-open look."
It was a quick turnaround for Washington, which blew its chance to win the Pac-10 outright with two bad losses to UCLA and USC -- both at the bottom of the conference -- to close the regular season.
The Huskies, who depend largely on their 3-point shooting, won despite making just 7 of 22 from long range. Payne hit four 3-pointers. LeAnn Sheets had 15 rebounds. Franza, an All Pac-10 first-teamer, finished with 12 points and six assists, including the one that set up the game-winner.
"It was definitely the assist of the year," coach June Daugherty said.
Long a powerhouse in the women's game, Old Dominion came into the tournament with its lowest seed ever, even though it won its 10th straight Colonial Athletic Association title.
Myriah Spence came off the bench to lead the Monarchs with 13
points while teammate Hamchetou Maiga had 11 points and seven
rebounds. It was ODU's first opening-round loss since 1995.