Merle Wiehl and Karli Seay combined for 36 points and the Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team knocked off No. 18 Casper College 77-72 Tuesday night at Cougar Palace.
WNCC moved to 11-2 on the season while Casper dropped to 10-2.
The Cougars led for most of the night with just four lead changes. What was key for the Cougars was their effort from start to finish.
“This was a really big win for us and it was a good win to put under our belt before we are off for a few weeks,” sophomore Jaleesa Avery said. “We beat them twice last year and we knew they were coming for us tonight.”
It was a battle, too. WNCC held the largest lead of the contest of 11 points in the second half, 65-54. Casper, came into Tuesday’s contest with a number 18 ranking in the first NJCAA polls that were released Tuesday, started to come back, cutting the lead to four points on several occasions.
“Overall, the team played well,” sophomore Anastacia Johnson said. “We have a lot of areas that we need to fix, but they are easy fixes.”
WNCC kept focused throughout and that is what helped the Cougars to their 11th win of the season, according to Johnson.
“The keys to the game were energy, enthusiasm, and effort,” Johnson, who finished with a team-high seven assists, said. “We also had to be the tougher team.”
A big key was rebounding, too. WNCC limited Casper to just one shot most of the game. The Cougars out-rebounded the Thunderbirds 41-36. Merle Wiehl led the team on the glass with 11 boards.
Wiehl finished the game with a double-double, finishing with 18 points. Seay also had 18 points in the contest to go with 9-of-11 free throw shooting.
Also getting double digits in scoring was Melisa Kadic, who tallied 16 points.
Another big reason for the win was shooting. WNCC shot 45 percent for the game. WNCC also nailed seven treys compared to six for Casper. Kadic and Wiehl each had two 3-pointers.
Free throw shooting was another big difference. Casper was just 6 of 9 from the charity stripe, while WNCC was 16 of 27.
The first three quarters was back and forth. WNCC led 16-15 after one quarter and led 33-30 at halftime. The third quarter saw Casper hold one-point leads three times, the last time at 51-50. Kadic came down and nailed a trey to put WNCC up 53-51 before both squads settled for a 53-53 tie after 30 minutes of play.
The first part of the fourth quarter is where things changed quickly. WNCC started the quarter on a 12-1 run to lead 65-54 behind a hard-nosed defense that generated steals and four points from Johnson. WNCC and Casper kept exchanging buckets after that before Seay hit 5-of-6 free throws at the end of the game to seal the win.
WNCC will close out the first semester on Saturday when they host Eastern Wyoming College at 5:30 p.m. in a men’s and women’s doubleheader. The EWC contest will be the Cougars second Region IX South sub-region contest.
The Cougars will then have the holiday break off before returning to the court January 4 when they host Northwest Kansas Tech junior varsity.
Casper (10-2) 15 15 23 19 – 72
WNCC (11-2) 16 17 20 24 – 77wn
Caroline Rivera 4, Paula Orenes Sanchez 13, Bruna Vila Artigues 14, Nerea Baena 2, Maggie Justinak 3, Natalia Panufnik 2, Ashlie Larson 5, Mya Jones 4, Lucie Hoskova 10, Emily Robertson 15.
Melisa Kadic 16, Merle Wiehl 18, Jaleesa Avery 9, Olivia Wiberg 3, Karlie Seay 18, Anastacia Johnson 7, Giovanna Silva 6.