Philadelphia • Ten years from now, the Utah women's basketball team will look back on what it accomplished the final six games of the 2012-13 season with a sense of satisfaction and pride, coach Anthony Levrets said.
But on Saturday in a small, unfamiliar arena far from home, the way it ended in a heartbreaking 46-43 defeat at the hands of the Drexel Dragons just hurt.
"It's just tough to take, the way it went down," Utah senior guard Iwalani Rodrigues said of her final college game.
Rodrigues' defense on Drexel's leading scorer, senior Hollie Mershon, was brilliant for much of the game. The 20-point scorer went 5 for 20, including 1 for 8 in the first half. But a play the Dragons call "Zip" shook Mershon loose for a layup with 21 seconds left, and that proved to be the game winner.
"I just played," said Rodrigues, who scored Utah's first five points and finished with a team-high 12. "I tried to keep her from doing everything. â¦ I felt like I did a great job. She came up and made a couple tough ones that put them in the lead."
Michelle Plouffe also kept the Utes in the game, grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds, but at least she will get another chance next season, she said.
With Utah trailing by three in the final seconds, Plouffe got a pretty good look at a 3-pointer, but it wasn't to be.
"The look was there," said Plouffe, who made 58 treys this season. "I just fumbled the ball a little bit and then I had to hurry and put it up."
After Mershon's free throws put Drexel up 46-43 with 9.7 seconds left, the Utes were setting up a play when the Dragons knocked the ball out of bounds with 2.6 seconds left. Levrets said they wanted the ball in Plouffe's hands, and that's where it went.
"She's a big-time player," he said. "More often than not, she [hits] that shot."