Cassandra Lacey said she spent the early part of her women’s basketball season slacking and then playing poorly in other games.
Brutal honesty or false humility?
UW-Whitewater would likely say the latter after the Redlands (California) senior scored 11 of her game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter to thwart the Warhawks’ comeback attempts.
Lacey helped the Bulldogs to a 70-62 victory in an NCAA Division III first-round game at Kachel Gymnasium on Friday.
The Bulldogs, who won their first tournament game in school history, plays Trine tonight. The Thunder pummeled Benedictine, 65-37, in the first game Friday.
“In the beginning of the season, I was slacking a lot and averaging probably like 2-3 points per game,” Lacey said.
“Alyssa (Downs) picked up the slack,” Lacey said. “It’s been like the last 10-15 games where we both have played well, but for the most part I do have a lot of bad games and she usually picks it up.”
UW-Whitewater, meanwhile, struggled late in the season and finished with consecutive losses to UW-Oshkosh and Redlands.
“We battled the whole game, but give a lot of credit to Redlands,” UW-Whitewater coach Keri Carollo said. “It wasn’t just once, but multiple times they made key shots in key moments.”
Lacey made many of them, answering three Whitewater fourth-quarter runs with eight points.
Whitewater’s first run started with freshman forward Aleah Grundahl scoring with eight quick points to cut a 52-38 deficit to 52-46 with nine minutes to play. Grundahl led Whitewater with 18 points and eight rebounds.
But Lacey then drilled consecutive pull-up jumpers from 17 feet, and Downs followed with a jumper to rebuild the lead to 58-46.
Whitewater tried a second run with a Veronica Kieres three-point play and a Johanna Taylor putback to once again cut it to six, 58-52, with five minutes left.
On the ensuing possession, Lacey took two dribbles and drained a pull-up jumper to make it 60-52.
“Cassie is hard to defend, because she can get by you and then pull up,” Redlands coach Rich Murphy said. “And there are not too many kids in Division III that (have) a pull-up jumper like she does.”
The Warhawks took one final stab at a comeback with senior Becky Raeder’s high-arching step-back 3-pointer to cut it 63-58 with 1 minute, 23 seconds left.
Whitewater then mistakenly fouled Lacey, who calmly sank two free throws to make it 65-58. That was as close as the Warhawks would get as the Bulldogs made more free throws to seal the victory.
“They did a nice job of working the clock to get a shot late in the possession, which defensively is tiring and taxing defensively,” Carollo said. “And then they would hit the shot at the end of the clock.”
Both teams played at a methodical pace in the first quarter, which finished with Whitewater leading 17-16.
A four-minute Warhawks scoring drought in the second quarter helped the Bulldogs open a 37-32 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs then capitalized on another Warhawks drought with a game-changing 11-0 run to build a 52-38 lead late in the third.
The 14-point deficit proved to be too much for the Warhawks, who were 23-2 when the regular season ended but could not find their groove in the postseason.
REDLANDS 70, UW-WHITEWATER 62
REDLANDS (22-6,14-2 SCIAC)
Cassandra Lacey 9-18 8-10 26; Alyssa Downs 6-10 2-2 18; Kellis Dack 3-4 0-0 6; Hannah Jerrier 3-5 0-0 6; Julia Balestreri 2-4 2-2 6; Chyanne Pagkalinawan 2-3 0-0 4; Alyssa Lee 1-8 1-4 4; Angelina Roque 0-0 0-0 0; Alexis Machain 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 26-54 13-18 70.
UW-WHITEWATER (23-4,13-1 WIAC)
Grundahl, Aleah 5-13 8-10 18; Taylor, Johanna 5-13 2-4 12; Raeder, Becky 2-9 3-4 9; Kieres, Veronica 3-14 3-3 9; Schumacher, Rebekah 3-7 0-0 8; Oomens, Courtney 2-2 0-0 4; Czarnecki, Kenni 1-1 0-0 2; Belschner, Abby 0-1 0-0 0; Baumgartner, Abi 0-0 0-0 0; Simmons, Erika 0-0 0-0 0; Green, Adriana 0-2 0-0 0; Ketz, Kailey 0-0 0-0 0; Corcoran, Megan 0-2 0-0 0; Sto. Domingo, Yssa 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 21-67 16-21 62.
Redlands 16 21 15 18—70
UW-Whitewater 17 15 10 20—62
3-point goals—Redlands 5-10 (Alyssa Downs 4-6; Alyssa Lee 1-3; Chyanne Pagkalinawan 0-1), Wis.-Whitewater 4-18 (Raeder, Becky 2-4; Schumacher, Rebekah 2-5; Kieres, Veronica 0-1; Green, Adriana 0-2; Corcoran, Megan 0-2; Sto. Domingo, Yssa 0-3; Grundahl, Aleah 0-1). Fouled out—Redlands-None, Wis.-Whitewater-None. Rebounds—Redlands 36 (Kellis Dack 12), Wis.-Whitewater 43 (Taylor, Johanna 10). Assists—Redlands 12 (Alexis Machain 3; Alyssa Lee 3), Wis.-Whitewater 13 (Green, Adriana 3; Taylor, Johanna 3). Total fouls—Redlands 16, Wis.-Whitewater 25. Technical fouls—Redlands-None, Wis.-Whitewater-None. A-602.