The Wayne State College women’s basketball team opened the 2019-20 season Friday night with a narrow 61-57 victory over Northwest Missouri State at the UNK Crossover Tournament in Kearney, Nebraska at the UNK Health and Sports Center.
The Wildcats trailed a majority of the first half and never took their first lead until the 6:06 mark of the second quarter.
Northwest Missouri State held an 11-6 lead before finishing the first quarter with a 14-13 lead.
The Bearcats maintained four point leads early in the second quarter until WSC used a 9-2 run midway through the second stanza to take their first lead at 23-22 on a Brittany Bongartz three-point play with 6:06 to go in the quarter.
A pair of Kylie Hammer free throws with 2:42 left before halftime gave WSC their biggest lead of the first half at 29-24.
The third quarter featured scoring runs by both squads. NMSU opened the third quarter with the first eight points to take a 32-29 lead, then WSC responded with a 7-0 run (all from Erin Norling) to take a 36-32 advantage.
WSC pushed the lead to eight at 44-36 following a Halley Busse three-point play with 1:41 to go in the quarter, but the Bearcats closed the quarter with a surge and cut the Wildcat lead to two at 44-42 entering the fourth quarter.
Wayne State never trailed in the fourth quarter, but fought off several ties from the Bearcats before making several free throws in the final 17 seconds to edge out the 60-57 win.
The ‘Cats used a Halley Busse trey and a Norling layup to build a 49-42 lead with 8:39 remaining. NMSU got within one at 50-49, but a 3-pointer from Hammer pushed the WSC lead back to four at 53-49.
Northwest Missouri State tied the score at 53-53 and after WSC increased the lead back to four at 57-53 the Bearcats evened the score at 57-57 with 40 seconds to play.
Bongartz was fouled with 17 seconds to play and made one of two free throws for a 58-57 lead. After an NMSU turnover, Norling made one of two tosses for a 59-57 advantage and Bongartz sealed the win making two free throws with one second left for the final score of 61-57.
Junior forward Erin Norling was one of three double digit scorers for Wayne State with 19 points. Junior guard Halley Busse added 15 points with junior center Brittany Bongartz adding 13.
WSC shot 21 of 56 from the field for 37.5 percent, going 5 for 11 (45.5%) from the 3-point line and 14 for 22 at the free throw line.
Kennedy Eaton scored 17 points to lead Northwest Missouri State followed by Jayna Green and Paityn Rau with 11 and 10 respectivley.
NMSU was 22-54 from the field for 40.7 percent, 3 of 15 behind the arc (20%) and 10-13 at the free throw stripe.
WSC outrebounded the Bearcats 40-32 thanks to six rebounds each from Norling, Bongartz and Haley Vesey.
Both teams had 16 turnovers in the contest. Autumn Mlinar had three assists for WSC while Busse accounted for three of Wayne State’s seven steals.
WSC will play again Saturday battling Nebraska-Kearney in a 5:30 p.m. contest.