Updated Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 02:56 PM
UCLA guard Markel Walker slumped in a chair in the corridor of Alaska Airlines Arena on Friday. Her body language wasn't indicative of a winning team.
"We're glad that Thea Lemberger and Atonye Nyingifa were able to knock down some free throws for us and we're proud that we fought back," Walker said after a 65-61 win against Washington. "But we know it shouldn't have been as close as it was."
Normally a running team that likes to shoot three-pointers, Washington hung with No. 17 UCLA's methodical pace with defensive grit to trail 59-58 with 33 seconds remaining after a layin from Huskies junior guard Mercedes Wetmore.
Despite forcing UCLA into turnovers and not allowing the Bruins a field goal in the final four minutes, Washington couldn't convert on the opportunities.
Redshirt freshman Talia Walton nailed a three-pointer in front of the UW bench with four seconds left to pull within 63-61. But Lemberger, who made four of her team's six free throws in the final 32 seconds, made two with three seconds left to seal the win.
"It's really disappointing because we just felt like we had them," said UW sophomore point guard Jazmine Davis, who had 17 points. Walton had 14 of her 18 points in the second half.
UCLA (18-4, 9-2 Pac-12) snapped UW's six-game winning streak and handed the Huskies (16-6, 8-3) their second loss of the season at home. The Bruins have won five straight, with the Huskies being the first to score more than 50 points against them during the run.
Washington's defense held Walker to 1-of-6 shooting from the field for four points and seven assists. Washington also forced her into a game-high eight turnovers, but UW only scored five points off the 20 turnovers it created.
The Huskies shot 27.8 percent from the field in the second half.
"We had some chances," UW coach Kevin McGuff said. "We missed some shots that we had been making and missed some free throws. If you're going to beat a great team like UCLA you've got to make those plays."
Washington led by one at halftime and built a quick five-point lead early after the break.
Up 47-42 with 14:57 remaining, the Huskies missed 10 consecutive shots as the Bruins' Alyssia Brewer led an 11-0 run to take a 53-47 lead with 9:36 left. She finished with a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Washington and UCLA entered the game knotted for third place in Pac-12 standings. In addition to trying to gain sole possession of the slot, the Huskies were looking for a signature win to keep their NCAA tournament bid campaign going.
Regardless of the loss, McGuff felt the game was of the tournament's caliber. Walker also took notice, remembering how her team outmuscled UW for an 85-68 win earlier this season.
"Their hunger is definitely there," she said of UW. "They all can shoot threes and drive. If they keep working and try to be fierce on the rebounding, they're definitely going to be a good NCAA tournament team."
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Attendance: 3,204. Officials: Marianne Karp, Michelle Russi, Brian Woods.
USC @ Washington, 1 p.m.
DEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Washington's Aminah Williams tries to control the ball as UCLA's Thea Lemberger moves in late during the second half.
DEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Washington's Jazmine Davis, center, blows by UCLA defenders Atonye Nyingifa, left, and Alyssia Brewer (32) during the first half for two of her 17 points scored against the Bruins.