First half drought cost Wildcats in 57-50 loss at Saint Martin's - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

First half drought cost Wildcats in 57-50 loss at Saint Martin's

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By Jonathan Gordon

LACEY, Wash. -- The Central Washington University women's basketball team raced out to a 12-4 lead, but managed just four points over the final 13 minutes of the first half in falling to host Saint Martin's University, 57-50, on Saturday night at Marcus Pavilion.

The Wildcats suffered their second straight loss, falling to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play. Saint Martin's earned its first conference win (1-1) and is 4-5 overall.

"Both nights on this trip, we got off to terrible starts in the first half," CWU head coach Shawn Nelson said, referring to this weekend's games at Western Oregon and Saint Martin's. "Even though we were up early, we need to put together a more complete half of basketball and we didn't do that tonight. Our shooting percentage is dictated by how our energy and effort on the floor go, and we're not playing hard consistently right now."

Nelson and the Wildcats changed up their starting lineup on Saturday, sitting senior Sophie Russell (Olympia, Wash./River Ridge HS) and junior Stacy Albrecht (Federal Way, Wash./Thomas Jefferson HS) and snapping streaks of 55 and 29 consecutive starts, respectively. In their places, sophomores Daisy Burke (Spokane, Wash./Lewis and Clark HS) and Amber Moser (Willamina, Ore./Sheridan HS) returned to the starting lineup, and Burke finished tied for the top scoring honors for the Wildcats with 10. Freshman Courtney Johnson (Kent, Wash./Kentwood HS) also tallied 10 points, while Russell finished with eight -- all in the second half -- off the bench.

Central Washington had a pair of eight-point leads in the first half, including the aforementioned 12-4 cushion, before Saint Martin's went on an 18-2 run that included a Wildcat scoring drought of more than six and a half minutes. The Saints lead reached 10 at halftime as they closed the period on a 22-4 spurt, which they later extended with the opening two points of the second half.

After the break, the lead see-sawed back and forth between single and double digits, but Saint Martin's eventually led by 17 with 8:39 to go, and was ahead by 16 at the 6:35 mark. However, CWU whittled away at the deficit, holding the Saints to just three points over a four-minute span in which they cut the margin to three at 53-50. However, three missed field goal attempts and a turnover in the Wildcats' four possessions prevented them from scoring again, while Saint Martin's tallied a lay-up and two free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the victory.

Central Washington struggled at the free throw line, making just 31.3 percent (5 of 16) on the night, including just four of 10 in the final 6:22 of the contest. The percentage was the lowest by a Wildcat team (with at least 10 attempts in a single game) since Jan. 23, 1993. Saint Martin's made 10 of its 15 free throw attempts.

In the field goal department, the Wildcats shot 40 percent in the second half to finish the game at 34.5 percent (19 of 55). However, they made just 7 of 26 three-pointers for 26.9 percent, while Saint Martin's hit at a 50 percent clip for the game (21 of 42). Central won the turnover battle by forcing 27 Saints miscues to their 20, with Burke leading the thievery with three steals and five others tallying two each. The Wildcats also had 15 second-chance points off their 15 offensive rebounds.

Chelsea Haskey led all players with 22 points and nine rebounds for Saint Martin's.

Central Washington will step out of GNAC play for the next four games, facing Brigham Young University-Hawai'i in a two-game weekend series at Nicholson Pavilion next Friday and Saturday (Dec. 9-10).

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