No. 2-seeded Central Washington fell to No. 3-seeded Western Washington in the West Regional Semifinals 64-58 Saturday night in Hayward, California.
As Central's season comes to a close, the Wildcats finish 24-8 overall. The mark is not only the highest-win season of the Division II era, but the first time CWU has advanced to the West Regional Semifinals. This season Central also captured its first ever Great Northwest Athletic Conference Tournament Championship.
The Vikings (22-5) advance to take on the winners of No. 1-seeded Cal State East Bay (23-2) and No. 6-seeded Azusa Pacific (25-3).
"I was proud of our effort, we played well for three quarters and Western got the best of us in the fourth," Central Washington Head Coach Randi Richardson-Thornley. "Overall, I'm so proud of the effort we made. Western is a really good team, and credit to them for making plays down the stretch on both sides of the ball. I'm so proud of our girls and what we've accomplished this year. I'm still trying to process it all, but I'm so proud of this group and all we've accomplished. It's a new and young team, and for us to come out and have the season that we had is a testament to their commitment, toughness, growth, and wanting to compete."
Kassidy Malcolm led the Wildcats scoring 17 points shooting 7-11 from the floor, 1-2 from the three-point line, and 2-3 at the free-throw line. Malcolm tallied an additional seven rebounds and single steal.
"Kassidy has been with our program for five years and has trusted the process," Richardson-Thornley said. "She is the perfect example of the student athlete we want in our program: a player that has come in, probably didn't get what she wanted right away. She trusted her teammates, the coaching staff, and grew into the GNAC Player of the Year this season."
Kizzah Maltezo scored an additional 14 points for the Crimson & Black alongside four assists.
"I don't know if a player could have as big of an impact as Kizzah has had on our program," Richardson-Thornley said. "From a leadership, effort, and energy standpoint she gave every single day to her teammates. She led by example and played her heart out every single night on the floor."
Samantha Bowman picked up her 26th double-double of the season, scoring 12 points and grabbing 15 boards. Bowman also added a single steal and assist.
Valerie Huerta provided an additional 11 points, three rebounds, and two steals.
Leading by as many as 10 points in the opening half, the Wildcats went into halftime with just a 35-34 lead over the Vikings.
Central responded well out of the break, outscoring the Vikings in the third quarter 15-9.
CWU carried it's seven-point lead into the final quarter, but the Wildcats were unable to keep pace with WWU.
The Vikings rallied in the final ten minutes of regulation, scoring 21 points and held the Wildcats to shooting 3-19 from the floor, 0-8 from the three-point line, and 2-3 at the free-throw line as the game ended.
- Malcolm and Bowman were named D2CCA First-Team All-Region
- Maltezo was named D2CCA Second-Team All-Region
- Malcolm was named First-Team All-GNAC, and the GNAC Player of the Year
- Bowman and Maltezo were named First Team All-GNAC
- Malcolm finishes her career as just the 6th player in Central Washington program history to tally 1,000 or more career points (1279) and 500 or more career rebounds (756). Malcolm finished fourth all-time in school career points and rebounds.
- Bowman broke the program record for single-game rebounds twice this season. First with 23 against Stanislaus in the season-opener on Nov. 12th, then once again with 29 against Concordia Irvine on Dec. 18th.
- Bowman has broken the program and GNAC single season total rebound record (477) and rebounding average (16.2).
- Maltezo broke the program record for single-season three-point field goals made (92) and total three-point field goal attempts (267).
- Maltezo broke the program single-season total points record with 602.
- Malcolm set the programs second-highest single-season point total with 572.
- Malcolm broke the programs single-season field-goals made record with 206.
- Maltezo & Malcolm finished second in program single-season games played, and first in single-season games started with 32.
- Bowman is now the Central Washington career rebound average leader at 8.6 per game.
- Malcolm ties Jasmine Edwards (2014-18) for fourth in program career games played with 111. Malcolm also finishes eighth in career games started with 83.