In the stands, fans rose to their feet. The Crimson Women clapped and waved school-colored pom-poms; old men jingled keys high in the air; a trio of tiny, kindergarten-age girls stood huddled near a rail in the balcony, cheering and shouting. It felt like an ending, and it was.
With three minutes to go in the contest on Saturday night against Humbolt State, SPU women’s basketball head coach Gordy Presnell called for a substitution. Seniors Kelley Berglund, Kerie Hughes, Stacie Lukkes and Stephanie Urrutia hustled off the court during their last regular season game to a standing ovation.
"It was symbolic," said Lukkes. "At that moment we were passing it on."
The game against Humbolt State was initiated with a Falcon run of 19-5. Shooting 37 percent from the floor in the first half, Seattle Pacific went into the locker room leading by 10 points.
The second period belonged to SPU. At the 5:09 mark, the Falcons were up by 16 points and had the game all wrapped up when Presnell called the seniors out in a substitution.
"It was the first time reality really sunk in. … It’s not always going to be like this," said Lukkes.
As the underclassmen took the court, the seniors took the bench and pulled T-shirts on over their jerseys. Crisp, white T-shirts that boasted the team’s perfect record, 27-0.
When the buzzer sounded, signaling the end of the game, the Falcons rushed the floor, hugging and circling up. Royal Brougham Pavilion erupted in applause.
"I expected us to do well this year," said Lukkes. "But (that) night was kind of surreal."
The victory was icing on the cake for the already-crowned Great Northwest Athletic Conference champions. It also cemented their standing as No. 1 in the country and top seed in the region. On Sunday it was announced that Seattle Pacific will host the West Regional tournament. The tournament begins with preliminary rounds on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and semi-finals on Saturday at 5 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. and concludes with the title game Monday at 7 p.m. SPU will take on eighth seed, Chico State, on Friday.
The game against Humbolt State marked the finish of the best-ever regular season for women’s basketball at Seattle Pacific. It will also go down as the most successful, and only undefeated, season of any sport in school history.
For the seniors, this perfect season is a culmination of years of conditioning, sweat, injuries, road trips, friendship and hard work. Saturday night’s game was the first of many goodbyes. It was an ending.
It was also a beginning. If the Falcons sweep the regional tournament, they will be only the second team from Seattle Pacific to advance to the Elite Eight. That tournament, the national championship tournament, will be held in St. Joseph, Mo., on March 26 – 29.
"All that we’ve worked for has been for the next week, the next two weeks, the next three weeks," said Lukkes.
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Title: Women go undefeated | Author: Sara Schilling | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2003-03-12 | Internal ID: 3235