Wildcats hold off Nanooks

Natalie Hyland, Staff Reporter

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The Wildcat women’s basketball team fought hard against the University of Alaska, Fairbanks from start to finish, coming away with a 69-66 victory, and picking up a win in the standings Thursday night.

“We never gave up the lead,” head coach Jeff Harada said. “They made a big run, but we held the lead all the way.”

The Wildcats opened the scoring, leading Fairbanks 16-10 at the end of the first quarter. Junior forward, Rachel Lorentson scored six points, followed by Sadie Mensing and Taylor Baird with four points each. The Wildcats lead the scoring into the second quarter, bringing the lead to 34-19 at halftime.

“I thought we played well,” Harada said. “Especially in the first half.”

After the break, the Nanooks showed the first signs of life, outscoring the Wildcats 23-13 in the third quarter, bringing them within striking distance. The Wildcats held a 47-42 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The tension built throughout the fourth as the Wildcats and Nanooks traded points. The Nanooks were within one with 15 seconds left in regulation, when a shooting foul sent a player to the free throw line for the Nanooks.

Mensing recalls how she felt as a Nanook player called a final timeout.

“Of course I was a little nervous, but I knew we could do it.”

Once play resumed Mensing scored the final basket, and sealed the win for the Wildcats 69-66.

“It was very stressful,” coach Harada said. “But always good to come out on top.”

Jordan Wilson and Kaliee Skjold led scoring for the night with 27 points and 30 points, for the Nanooks. Baird led the Wildcats scoring 17 points, followed by Mensing with 14. Lorentson scored 12 points from behind the 3-point line.

“She shot well, she’s been shooting well in practice and it transferred over to the game,” Harada said of Lorentson.

While four 3-pointers, is a new career personal best, Lorentson knows she still has more to add in upcoming games.

“I know I can shoot like that, it just doesn’t always happen.” Lorentson said. “They were big shots and my teammates were giving me good passes.”

Humility runs deep on the Wildcats team. Junior Jasmin Edwards surpassed the school record for most career assists in the Wildcats’ upset against No. 24 Simon Fraser on Feb. 4, and added 8 more in the same game, bringing her record to 389 career assists, but gives credit where she feels it’s due.

“I have to give all the credit to my teammates,” Edwards said. “They’re the ones that make the shots.”

Going into the final games of the regular season, a playoff berth is within reach for the Wildcats and the team is ready to take the opportunity.

“We’re gunning for playoffs, we had a slow start,” Lorentson said. “But we’re super excited and we’re hoping to keep this win streak going.”

The lady Wildcats are back in action at home Saturday Feb. 11 against No. 2 University of Alaska, Anchorage.

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Wildcats hold off Nanooks