MOSES LAKE — Big Bend head coach Preston Wilks surmised that his opposition received quite the tongue lashing at halftime.
Judging by the difference in play, there could be some validity to that statement.
Yakima Valley ratcheted up on both sides of the ball in the second half to create separation in the fourth quarter and win 80-76. The Yaks used a 13-0 run in the final period, turning a 69-63 deficit into a 76-69 lead.
“I just think the way they turned up everything — they wanted to get it going with their press, but on defense once we broke it, man, they just were all over us,” Wilks said. “Lanes closed up in a heartbeat and we couldn’t get where we wanted to. We were trying to take one too many dribbles and then they turned it up on offense.
“It seemed like every time they got a rebound we were running for our lives back.”
Big Bend counteracted poor shooting — 30.5 percent from the field — with dominant rebounding.
Yakima Valley trotted out a starting lineup that featured no player taller than 5-foot-7. An inviting sight for the Big Bend frontcourt of Hailey Garrity and Leah Dougherty.
Garrity gobbled up 17 of her team’s 44 total rebounds and Dougherty scored seven of her 16 points in the first quarter, helping Big Bend start ahead 7-1.
Yakima Valley 6-foot-2 center Kali Kruger, who played 16 minutes off the bench, did not curb the lopsided rebounding but did provide a defensive presence inside. Kruger totaled four blocks and altered countless attempts at the rim.
“I still think we were getting offensive rebounds, but we weren’t able to finish as well,” Wilks said. “I think we had 20-some second-chance points from our offensive rebounds, but I bet most of those were in the first half and not in the second half. We were getting offensive rebounds in the second half, but just not converting them into second-chance points and it was largely because of his (Yakima Valley head coach Adam Strom) personnel change.”
Down 38-31 at halftime, Yakima Valley methodically whittled its deficit down in the third quarter until a midrange jumper by Trista Takes Enemy tied the game 51-51. Both teams traded buckets in the third quarter until the Yaks pulled ahead by three points.
A three-pointer from Dougherty and a lay-up from Garrity tied the game 61-61 with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. Consecutive three-pointers from Miranda Johnson and Callie Gronning, in addition to a pair of free throws from Johnson, highlighted an 8-2 run by Big Bend.
However, Yakima Vally erased the deficit and took the lead for good behind its 13-0 run.
Big Bend sits at 3-5 in the NWAC East after the first half. The difference between third place and eighth place in the East is still narrow.
“It’s got to be a one-game approach,” Wilks said. “We can’t say we’re going to win that game, we’re going to win that game, we’re going to win that game — nothing matters if you don’t win your next game and so we’re just going to go in there and treat the next game like it’s our season.”
Score by quarters
YV — 17 14 28 21 80
BB — 20 18 18 20 76
Callie Gronning 17, Leah Dougherty 16, Miranda Johnson 15, Sunnie Martinez 15, Hailey Garrity 7, Kelsey Foster 3, Emily Allan 3