Balanced attack leads Wildcats to 80-75 upset of Seattle Pacific - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Balanced attack leads Wildcats to 80-75 upset of Seattle Pacific

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ELLENSBURG, Wash. -- Central Washington University overcame a 13-point first-half deficit, and four players scored in double figures, as the Wildcat women's basketball team stunned visiting Seattle Pacific University, 80-75, on Saturday night at Nicholson Pavilion.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak on the season for the Wildcats, and also ended a nine-game series skid against the Falcons. CWU improved to 7-14 overall and 4-10 in Great Northwest Athletic Conference play, while SPU slipped to 15-8 overall and 9-6 in the conference.

Central Washington scored the game's first basket and stayed close with Seattle Pacific until the midway point of the first half, when the Falcons went on a 10-0 scoring run over a span of 3:08. That run was capped by a technical foul against the Wildcat bench, which sparked a 15-2 run over the next 3 1/2 minutes that saw CWU tie the game at 32-32. The hosts were within one at halftime, 38-37.

"We really came together as a team (at the point of the technical foul)," CWU head coach Shawn Nelson said. "Everybody wearing a Wildcat uniform tonight contributed, especially during the final five minutes when we could have packed it in. We stepped it up and took it to a level where we should be able to be at a consistent basis. Our comeback was all keyed by our defense."

The game remained close the entire second half, but it was the Wildcats who were more in control on the court and the scoreboard. CWU took a 51-48 lead with 15:14 remaining, and with the exception of ties at 64-64 and 66-66, the Wildcats led the rest of the way. Their lead reached seven three times in the second half, including twice in the final minute, as they sealed their first win over the Falcons since Feb. 2007.

The game was arguably decided from behind the three-point line, where the Wildcats made 12 of 30 (40 percent) while holding Seattle Pacific to 2 of 20 (10 percent). The Falcons missed their first 13 trey attempts, while it was long-distance shooting that enabled CWU to take or extend its lead at crucial junctures down the stretch. A trey by senior Sophie Russell (Olympia, Wash./River Ridge HS) at the 4:33 mark broke the game's final tie, while a trifecta by sophomore Jessica VanDyke (Chester, Mont./Chester-Joplin-Inverness HS) at the 2:11 mark gave the hosts a six-point cushion.

"Although we took a lot of threes, we were also able to execute on our 'counters'," Nelson said, referring to his team's ability to explore its second or third offensive scoring option inside the three-point arc. "We haven't done a great job executing on those opportunities, but we were able to tonight, especially junior Stacy Albrecht."

"We changed our defensive scheme (from the first time we played SPU)," Nelson added, referring to the Wildcats' efforts at the defensive end of the floor, especially as they pertained to Seattle Pacific's three-point percentage. "We focused on players and tendencies, and we forced them to take shots they weren't as comfortable with (from behind the arc)."

Four Central Washington starters reached double figures in the scoring column, led by Russell with 19 points on 6 of 16 shooting. Russell and VanDyke each converted on 5 of 11 three-point attempts, as VanDyke added 18 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Junior Alex Dunn (West Valley City, Utah/Hunter HS) added 16 points, a team-high eight rebounds, and a game-high six assists, while Albrecht (Federal Way, Wash./Thomas Jefferson HS) scored 12 points with seven rebounds.

Central Washington finished the game shooting 41.5 percent from the field, but edged Seattle Pacific by a 42-37 margin in rebounding. The Falcons entered the game averaging nearly 10 more rebounds than their opponents.

Post Katie Benson carried the bulk of the offensive load for Seattle Pacific, scoring 22 points on 9 of 14 shooting. She also led all players with 10 rebounds, while Rachel Murray (14 points) and Nyesha Sims (12 points) also scored in double figures for the Falcons, who committed just seven turnovers for the game.

Central Washington concludes a four-game home stand with a non-conference game on Sunday evening against Walla Walla University at 6 p.m.

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