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Williams ends career at Lewis & Clark

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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With her collegiate basketball career coming to a close, Kristina Williams was hoping to extend the season as long as possible.

The Lewis & Clark Pioneers have had an exceptional season, winning 24 games and losing only three while qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season.

The Pioneers opened the tournament Friday, picking up a 78-49 win over Trinity for the team’s 25th win of the season. Williams scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the win. On Saturday, however, Williams and the Pioneers saw their season come to an end and dream of reaching the Sweet-16 squashed, as the 13th-ranked Pioneers lost to Northwest Conference rival Whitman, 66-57. The teams split the season series, but on this night Whitman won the biggest game of the year. Williams finished the game with 27 points and five rebounds, while the Pioneers finished the season with a 25-4 record.

The loss brought an end to an exceptional career for Williams, who did it all for the Pioneers this season. Williams, 21, led the team in scoring and rebounding by averaging 18 points and eight rebounds per game. For her efforts, she was named the Northwest Conference Player of the Year. She also earned the award as a sophomore.

“It definitely feels good to win it and it’s nice to get the recognition, especially with the work I’ve put in,” Williams said. “It’s also a huge reflection on the team. The award usually goes to a player on the team that wins the conference and secondly, we have a lot of scorers on our team so teams can’t just focus on stopping me.”

There’s one more individual award that Williams hopes to earn. While she was named a pre-season All-American by D3hoops.com, she hopes to be one of the five players to earn a spot on the first-team All-American squad at the season’s end. She said that might depend on how well her team does in the NCAA Tournament.

Personal goals aside, what Williams wanted more than anything is team success.

“We’ve had a good season with an undefeated preseason and a conference championship, which we won outright for the first time in school history,” Williams said in an interview last week before the team was eliminated. “We’re going to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year, which is a first in school history. We get to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament and we’d like to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time and go even further.”

Two years ago, the Pioneers lost their first game of the tournament, while last year they won their opening game and then lost in the second round.

“It’s exciting to see how far we go,” Williams said. “My career has gone by so fast that I’m trying to enjoy every moment of this.”

Williams, who is a psychology major, will graduate in May. She said she might look to play basketball professionally overseas and if that doesn’t work out, she might go for a graduate assistant coaching position.