By JASON EPP
Leader & Times
It would have been easy for the Lady Dusters to give up early. After an early 10-0 run by an undefeated Mooreland team that featured a 6-foot tall all-state player, Beaver could have folded their tent.
But instead the Beaver Lady Dusters battled back, only to succumb to the Lady Bearcats in the final two minutes, losing 44-37.
“I’m disappointed with the loss, but not with the effort we had,” Lady Dusters coach Casey Jones. “Our effort since we’ve come back from Christmas has been great. We’ve left it all on the floor tonight.”
Beaver’s Shelby Perry scored the first bucket of the game, but the Lady Dusters did not score again until Jacinda Balderrama scored her only two points of the game as the first quarter buzzer went off.
Beaver trailed 10-4 at that point.
Beaver began their crawl back into the game with back-to-back threes by Cassie Howell and Kalie Hoover early in the second quarter.
Beaver finished the half with a 9-4 run that knotted the game at 21 at half.
Howell’s second three of the game in the first minute of the third quarter gave the Lady Dusters their first lead (24-23) since the opening basket of the game.
Mooreland quickly regained the lead, but Hoover scored with 3 minutes left in the third to put the Lady Dusters up 28-27.
Shelby Brown hit her second three of the game to open the fourth, and Beaver led again, 33-32.
“She’s been under the weather,” Jones said about Shelby Brown. “We’ve had to spot her because she’s been tired. She was finding her range today. She’s does a really good job being a floor general, and being a calming factor for us even when her stat line isn’t big.”
Mooreland answered to regain the lead 36-33, but Beaver answered again with Howell putting the Lady Dusters up 37-35 with 3:15 left in the game.
But that was it for the Lady Dusters offense. Four straight possessions with turnovers proved too costly, and Mooreland did just enough to hold on to win.
“We made a couple of bad passes and a couple of bad decisions towards the end,” Jones said. “They ramped up the pressure on us and we turned it over. They made us pay at the free throw line.”
Shelby Brown led the Lady Dusters in scoring with 12 points; Cassie Howell scored 10, and Shelby Perry 8.
Beaver (5-7) will make the 80-plus mile trek to Woodward to take on a familiar foe that is only six miles away, Forgan.
“It’s not the first time,” Jones said. “Forgan is good. They have a good mix. I’ll be glad when Kenzi (Taylor) graduates. Her size and ball-handling ability just make her such a good player.”