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Lady Rustlers stay close but fall to Sheridan 68-65

Feb 13, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine Staff Writer

Four players accounted for 88 of the points scored Saturday night at Rustler Gym, but it was the inside play of Sheridan's Laura Pelse of Latvia and Fallon Lewis of Dayton that caused the most trouble for Central Wyoming College's Lady Rustlers.

Sheridan College beat CWC 68-65 upping its season record to 21-3.

Throughout most of the game, the Lady Rustlers, now 4-8 in conference play, stayed close, but they could never overcome Sheridan.

CWC had the game tied at 40-40 with just over 15 minutes to play and, after falling behind by five, tied the game again at 48-48 on two Elsie Keller free throws with 10 minutes to play.

Lady Rustler Jacki Nicholson, who played a marvelous game both inside and outside, led CWC with 25 points. Courtney Patterson tossed in a gritty 19.

For the Lady Generals, Lewis, a quick forward who had success driving to the basket, scored 23 and the powerful 6-foot-3 Pelse had 21.

Ruth O'Neal, a criminal justice major who played her high school basketball in Lander and starts for Sheridan as a sophomore, scored eight but had to leave the game with 13:41 left to play because of a knee injury.

"All I remember is going in for the rebound and somebody fell and hit the bottom of my leg while I was going forward and it kind of popped. I'll get it checked out on Monday," O'Neal said after coming out of the locker room on crutches after the game.

The Lady Rustlers capitalized on opportunities inside during the second half, but it was the possessions that did not create good looks late in the game that were the most frustrating.

"Right now, we are the best 36-minute team in Region IX. If the games were only 36 minutes, I might contend that we might be undefeated except for the loss against Western," head coach Serol Stauffenberg said.

After trailing by as many as seven points late, CWC cut the Sheridan lead to 66-64 with two free throws by Nicholson with 6.4 seconds to play.

The Lady Rustlers were forced to foul, and Kelli Cordell made both charity shots to give the Lady Generals a four point lead with 6.2 seconds left.

But the game wasn't over. Nicholson drove hard up the court and, surprisingly, was fouled by Cordell but was injured on the play.

With Nicholson unable to shoot her free throws, Shay Cooper came off the bench and calmly made the first to cut the deficit to three with 2.9 still on the clock.

Cooper than fired the ball at the basket trying to miss to create an offensive rebound chance, but the ball hit only backboard on the intentional miss. Because the ball didn't touch the rim, Sheridan was awarded possession of the ball and ran out the clock.

"They (CWC) are a good team, and they really compete. It is hard to win on the road. It's up in the air whether we will host. We still have to beat Gillette and Casper," Sheridan coach Frank McCarthy said.

CWC has a rare Sunday home game against Air Force prep today at 1 p.m. in Rustler Gym. On Thursday, CWC travels to Miles City, Mont., for a 5:30 p.m.. contest against Miles Community College.

Sheridan College 34 34 -- 68

CWC 31 34 -- 65

Sheridan (68) -- Lewis 6 (2) 3-5 23, O'Neal 3 2-2 8, Cordell 2 6-8 10, Kiriau 3 0-0 6, Pelse 10 1-2 21, Bennet 0 0-2 0, Smith 0 0-0 0, Hirsig 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 (2) 14-21 68.

CWC (65) -- Nielson 0 (3) 0-0 9, Keller 0 6-6 6, Foster 1 0-0 2, Patterson 6 (1) 4-6 19, Nicholson 6 (2) 7-10 25, Cooper 0 1-2 1, Prosenick 0 0-0 0, Hogan 0 0-0 0, Wadsworth 1 1-2 3, Walker 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 (6) 19-25 65.

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