Wildcats fade in fourth, season ends in 80-70 loss

Wayne State erased a 14-point first-half deficit, but faded down the stretch as Concordia-St. Paul upset the Wildcats 80-70 in the quarterfinals of the Northern Sun Conference tournament Sunday afternoon at the Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Wayne State trailed by 10 midway through the first period and the Golden Bears shot 10-of-18 from the floor to build a 25-15 first-quarter advantage.

The Golden Bears led by as many as 14 points midway through the second quarter, taking a 33-19 lead with an 8-0 run after the Wildcats had cut the lead to six to start the period.

Wayne State chipped away at the lead late in the half and Kacie O’Connor hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give the Wildcats a bit of momentum as they trailed 39-33 at the break.

Wayne State got their first lead of the game at 46-45 on an Andrea Larson jumper with 3:30 to go in the quarter, and the game stayed tight with Paige Ballinger’s late basket giving the Wildcats a 53-52 lead going to the final period.

Wayne State took its biggest lead early in the fourth when Maggie Schulte scored on the inside and Maggie Lowe drained a long 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 59-57. The teams traded baskets and Wayne State took its final lead at 63-61 on an O’Connor layup with 4:16 to go.

The Golden Bears came back down the stretch, however, outscoring Wayne State 19-7 over the final four minutes. Wayne State scored its final points on a Larson trey to make it 72-70 with :46 left, but the Golden Bears closed the game out with free throws and avenged two double-digit losses to the Wildcats during the regular season to advance to the semifinals.

Wayne State, which ended its season with a 25-7 record, was led by seniors Schulte and Ballinger with 16 and 15 points in their final games in a Wayne State uniform. Larson and Brittany Bongartz both came off the bench to add 10 points apiece.

The Wayne Herald

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