Central Washington women defeat BYU-Hawaii, 85-70 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Central Washington women defeat BYU-Hawaii, 85-70

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ELLENSBURG, Wash. -- Five Central Washington University players scored in double figures, including a team- and career-high 15 points from sophomore reserve Kelsi Jacobson (Spokane, Wash./University HS), as the Wildcat women's basketball team defeated visiting Brigham Young University-Hawaii, 85-70, on Friday night at Nicholson Pavilion.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Central Washington, which evened its season record to 3-3. BYU-Hawaii remained winless at 0-6 entering the finale of a two-game weekend series between the two schools on Saturday night (Dec. 10) at 7 p.m.

Central Washington totaled a season-high 16 steals, forcing 28 BYU-Hawaii turnovers, and used those takeaways to set the tone for their second-highest scoring night of the season.

"Our small lineup did a nice job forcing turnovers, and we were able to convert on the fast break with some easy baskets," CWU head coach Shawn Nelson explained, referring to a starting lineup that featured just one player taller than 5-foot-9. "Those points helped us because we struggled shooting from the outside for awhile early in the game."

The Wildcats finished with 22 fast-break points in the game, and used 15 first-half takeaways to offset a 4 for 15 shooting performance from three-point range in the opening period. CWU also had its troubles at the free throw line prior to halftime, where they made just two of seven attempts and were outscored by 10 points by the Seasiders.

"Every time we started to go on a run," Nelson continued, "we weren't able to sustain that large run because we would put (BYU-Hawaii) at the free throw line."

The lead see-sawed back and forth for the first 10 minutes before the Wildcats went ahead for good on a three-pointer by senior Sophie Russell (Olympia, Wash./River Ridge HS) with 9:39 to go. That trey was part of a 22-8 CWU scoring spurt that saw the Wildcats take a 10-point lead with 1:38 to go before halftime, and the hosts led 38-30 at the break.

In the second half, each team's shooting percentage heated up as both the Wildcats and Seasiders broke the 40-point plateau after halftime. Central outscored BYUH 47-40 over the final 20 minutes, and each team made 14 of 32 field-goal attempts (43.8 percent). However, the Wildcats converted on 6 of 15 three-point tries in the final stanza and was 13 of 17 at the free throw line. BYU-Hawaii was just 3 of 10 from behind the arc in the second half.

"We had some great individual performances, with five in double figures," Nelson said, "and it was the most energy I have seen our team play with since our season opener (an 88-68 win over Harding)."

Jacobson scored 15 points in 17 minutes off the bench, finishing 6 of 12 shooting including 3 of 6 on three-point attempts. Sophomore Jessica VanDyke (Chester, Mont./Chester-Joplin-Inverness HS) finished with a double-double of 13 points and a season-high 11 rebounds, while junior Alex Dunn (West Valley City, Utah/Hunter HS) added 13 points, eight assists, six rebounds, and five steals for the Wildcats. Russell totaled 12 and sophomore Daisy Burke (Spokane, Wash./Lewis and Clark HS) chipped in with 10. Freshman Melanie Valdez (Richland, Wash./Chiawana HS), who made her first collegiate start on Friday, joined Dunn with a game-high five steals.

BYU-Hawaii, which scored a season-high 70 points in the loss, was led by a game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds from Shayla Washington. Brianna Jessop and Tessa Carter came off the Seasider bench to score 15 and 11, respectively, while Taylor Mann nearly posted a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.

After the two teams wrap up their two-game series on Saturday, CWU will travel to Las Vegas, Nev., next week for games against Drury (Mo.) and Central Oklahoma on Thursday (Dec. 15) and Friday (Dec. 16), respectively.

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