By CONNER VANDERWEYST
TACOMA — Jamie Loera drove to her left, absorbed contact from two University defenders and floated a shot that bounced high off the glass into the net.
Loera’s traditional 3-point play at the start of the fourth quarter pushed Moses Lake’s lead to 12 points — a margin that never shrank to less than eight.
Loera, Abby Rathbun and Morgan Yamane — senior captains — scored a combined 62 points and Moses Lake beat University 71-60 to advance to the state semifinals.
“Of course, you’ve got our three captains,” head coach Matt Strophy said. “Points and rebounds that led the way. So, they were huge for us and that’s what got us over the hump and into the semifinals tomorrow.”
University entered the state quarterfinals boasting consecutive wins over Chiawana, Sunnyside and No. 6 Bellarmine Prep. And for a time, the Titans hung with the Chiefs.
Moses Lake led by just two points after one quarter, but things opened up in the second.
Loera scored 10 of her game-high 32 points in the second quarter as Moses Lake outscored University 22-13.
Claire Dingus, who scored 34 points against Bellarmine the day before, was held scoreless in the first half with Kiera McPartland as the primary defender.
As a whole, Moses Lake demonstrated its prowess defensively. Rathbun came away with five steals and the Chiefs forced 16 total turnovers.
“It really helps our momentum to get us going,” Yamane said of the takeaways.
With University’s length making points in the paint hard to come by, Moses Lake resorted to the 3-point shot to create separation in the first half.
Loera hit consecutive 3s and Ellie Mayo sunk another from the left corner for a quick nine-point burst. Yamane beat the first-half buzzer with a putback to give the Chiefs an 11-point lead at halftime.
University got as close as eight points in the second half before Moses Lake found its gear and built a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Moses Lake will now get another crack at fellow unbeaten and top-ranked Central Valley in the state semifinals today at 3:45 p.m.
The Bears sent a message Thursday afternoon, shutting out Kentlake in the second half in a 61-16 trouncing.
“CV definitely has that length so it (playing University) was good for us,” Strophy said. “Their length gave us problems, but again, good practice for tomorrow.”
Score by quarters
U — 13 13 16 18 60
ML — 15 22 14 20 71
Jamie Loera 34, Abby Rathbun 17, Morgan Yamane 13, Ellie Mayo 3,
Madisyn Clark 2, Camille Carpenter 2
Highlights: Loera 7 assists; Yamane 9 rebounds; Rathbun 9 rebounds, 5 steals