SHERIDAN — The Western Wyoming Community College women’s basketball team found itself on the wrong end of a five-game losing streak entering the weekend. The Mustangs hit the road to face a 10-7 Sheridan College team on Saturday, and they looked very keen to not let the losing streak stretch any further.
WWCC jumped out to a 13-9 lead after the opening quarter, but Sheridan exploded in the second to take a 32-22 advantage into the intermission. The lead continued to grow into the third and was up to 15 with four minutes to go before the Mustangs flipped the switch. A defensive barrage started the run, and they were so close to coming all the way back, but ended up falling in the final seconds 59-58.
The game turned on its head midway through the third, as Sheridan held the 48-33 lead and appeared to be on its way to a comfortable victory. Freshman Rachel Walsh had a big hand in the momentum flip and she started the big run with a triple from the top of the key with 3:30 on the clock.
Anna Radenkova made a great assist on that play, but the bucket on the next possession was a one-woman effort from Walsh. After coming up with one of her three steals in a two-minute stretch, she raced to the other end for a tough layup to make it 48-38.
Sheridan was able to stop the 5-0 run with a bucket, but Walsh had a 3-point answer ready, as Francesca Facchini found her in the corner for the long-range bomb with 1:50 remaining. The mood of the game had taken a 180-degree turn, and the Mustangs had all the momentum heading into the fourth only down 50-43.
They got the scoring started 30 seconds into the final period, as Reilly Walsh backed the defender out near the midcourt line and then drove right by her for the layup. WWCC scored on a great inbound play a minute later, with Reilly Walsh setting up Kenzi Reed in the corner for the huge 3 to make it 52-48.
Just as her sister did at the end of the third, Reilly Walsh took over the opening two minutes of the fourth, and cut the lead all the way down to 52-50 with another blow-by layup.
A score from Sheridan extended the deficit back to four at the four-minute mark, but Radenkova erased that bucket immediately. The Mustangs pushed the pace up the floor 10 seconds later, and Radenkova beat her defender with a quick post move to make it 54-52.
She answered the next Sheridan bucket as well, knocking down a pair of free throws with 2:50 on the clock, and then Reilly Walsh came up big again on the next possession. She ripped down a big defensive rebound, drew the foul after the full-court drive, and split the pair of free throws to bring the Mustangs within a point at 56-55.
WWCC had a couple shots fall agonizingly short in the following minute and a free throw with just over 20 seconds on the clock put Sheridan up 59-55. The Mustangs had their backs against the wall again, but Radenkova answered the bell with a huge rebound and score. She was also fouled in the act and calmly knocked down her 22nd point to make it 59-58 with 12 seconds left.
Sheridan was lucky to get out a dangerous trap in the backcourt on the following possession, but they managed to advance it past half court, and Western wasn’t able to foul to stop the clock. Despite the loss, it was a heroic effort by the Mustangs to make a game of it after being down 15 with 14 minutes to play.
Reilly Walsh scored seven of her 11 points in the fourth to bring the team within striking distance, and Rachel Walsh also provided a big spark in the latter part of the third. Facchini flirted with a double-double with nine points and eight rebounds.
The Mustangs will return to their home court for the first in a month and a half on Wednesday, as they take on Northwest College at 5:30 p.m.