Four of the six players who logged minutes for the UAA women’s basketball team Saturday night were underclassmen who are still learning what it takes to play in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
The Seawolves didn’t look inexperienced while they were erasing a nine-point halftime deficit early in the second half of a 74-64 loss to Central Washington, but mistakes and inconsistencies eventually got the better of them at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.
“Young players getting a lot of minutes, that’s what we are right now,” UAA coach Ryan McCarthy said. “As much as it isn’t fun to lose, these are opportunities for those freshman-sophomore players to go in there and create good habits.”
UAA’s second straight loss was Central Washington’s third straight win, which means the teams will swap positions in the conference standings. UAA (8-2, 2-5 GNAC) fell to eighth place in the 10-team league and Central Washington (8-7, 3-4) moved up to seventh.
The Wildcats, led by 22 points, eight rebounds and eight assists from Leslie Stillar, snapped an 11-game losing streak against the Seawolves, beating UAA for the first time since 2007. Jasmine Parker (nine rebounds) and Hannah Shine each posted 14 points, with Courtney Johnson pitching in 10 for the Wildcats.
UAA, which dressed eight players, was without the services of senior guards Sasha King and Jordan Martin for the second straight game — King was out with an ankle injury and Martin was out for academic reasons.
Jessica Madison, a redshirt freshman, stepped up in their absence to achieve career highs with 16 points and four assists. Senior Alysa Horn also scored 16 points, and junior Kylie Burns ruled the glass with a game-high and career-high 14 rebounds.
“The player I’m really excited about right now, with her improvement from the very beginning of the year to right now, is Jessica Madison,” McCarthy said. “I think she’s gonna have a special career at UAA.”
Sophomore Alli Madison also showed flashes of brilliance in dishing a career-high eight assists, and freshman Jenna Buchanan tossed in nine points.
UAA opened the second half on an 8-4 run that cut the Wildcats’ lead to 43-38 and brought fans to their feet for the first time.
Cheering continued as UAA followed a pair of Central Washington free throws with seven more unanswered points and took a 50-47 lead.
“The second half we did a really good job on their shooters, but they still were penetrating the middle and that killed us,” Jessica Madison said.
Shine tied it at 50-50 with a 3-pointer and Central Washington regained the lead at 52-50 on a pair of free throws. After a bucket from Parker, Shine hit another 3-pointer to put the Wildcats up 57-50 with just more than eight minutes remaining.
“We had a little dry spot, but we stayed strong, we didn’t fold,” Parker said.
Two big 3-pointers from UAA freshman Alyssa Hutchins (seven points) made it a one-possession game. She cut the lead to 61-58 with her first bomb and followed a Central Washington score with an extra-deep launch to make it 63-61 with 3:43 remaining.
“Hutch can shoot it,” McCarthy said. “She pulled one from about the NBA line. I turned around and just kinda shook my head. When it goes in, it’s a great shot.”
Central Washington pulled away after Hutchins’ second trey, sealing the game at the free throw line.
The Seawolves play their next four games on the road, the last two of which are showdowns with Western Washington and Simon Fraser, the top two teams in the GNAC. First-place Western Washington was ranked eighth in the NCAA Division II national rankings last week and second-place Simon Fraser was ranked 10th.
Reach Jeremy Peters email@example.com or 257-4335.
CENTRAL WASHINGTON (74) — Moser 2-3 0-0 4; Parker 5-10 4-5 14; Stillar 6-12 6-8 22; VanDyke 2-10 2-2 8; Shine 5-10 1-1 14; Burke 0-3 0-0 0; Johnson 4-8 1-4 10; Fettig 1-4 0-0 2; Martinez 0-0 0-0 0; Totals 25-60 14-20 74.
UAA (64) — Horn 5-13 4-7 16; A. Madison 3-11 2-3 8; Hutchins 2-6 1-3 7; J. Madison 7-12 0-0 16; Burns 2-6 2-2 8; Buchanan 4-9 1-2 9; Totals 23-57 10-17 64.
CWU 39 35 — 74
UAA 30 34 — 64
3-point field goals — CWU 10-25 (Stillar 4-7; VanDyke 2-9; Shine 3-5; Burke 0-2; Johnson 1-1; Fettig 0-1); UAA 8-22 (Horn 2-5; A. Madison 0-2; Hutchins 2-6; J. Madison 2-4; Burns 2-4; Buchanan 0-1). Rebounds — CWU 39 (Parker, 9); UAA 36 (Burns 14). Total fouls — CWU 14; UAA 17. Assists — CWU 23 (Stillar, 8); UAA 19 (A. Madison 8). Turnovers — CWU 14 (Stillar 6); UAA 18 (A. Madison 5). Blocks — CWU 4 (Parker 2); UAA 2 (Horn, J. Madison). Steals — CWU 8 (Stillar; VanDyke 2); UAA — 5 (Horn 2). Officials — Vanni, McCourt, Lujan. A — 544.
By JEREMY PETERS