Blizzard warningMuscatine's flurry of 3-pointers put an end to Washington's upset hopes
Trailing No. 7 Muscatine 41-31 late in the third quarter, No. 9 Washington was working hard to claw its way out of that 10-point hole.
But that’s when the Demons were snowed under by an avalanche of 3-pointers.
The Muskies made three 3-pointers in the final minute of the third quarter and then cruised to a 60-41 victory in Tuesday’s non-conference contest.
“We turned it over a couple of times and then they got on a hot run,” Washington senior Beth Dillon said. “We just couldn’t answer that.”
Muscatine junior Emily Clemens nailed a 3-pointer with 49 seconds left in the third quarter, and she was fouled after the play, giving the ball back to the Muskies. Senior Megan Thiesse drained a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, and then Clemens got a steal. Thiesse missed a 3-pointer, but after teammate Alex Walgren got an offensive rebound, she got another try. This time, her 3-pointer swished through the net to give Muscatine a 50-31 lead with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.
“That was a nice burst for us,” Muscatine head coach Susan Orvis said. “That was a big stretch for us and obviously gave us some breathing room.”
Muscatine (12-2) led by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter.
The Muskies had four players score in double figures. Senior Leticia Lerma, who has committed to play at Bradley University, scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Muscatine. Thiesse made four 3-pointers — all in the second half — and added 14 points. Sophomore Annabel Graettinger came off the bench to chip in 13 points and six rebounds, and Clemens made all three of her 3-point attempts and finished with 11 points and six steals.
Dillon scored a career-high 16 points on an array of post moves and short jumpers to lead the Demons.
“My teammates fed it to me and I just had opportunities and the shots went in,” Dillon said.
Muscatine scored the first eight points in Tuesday’s game, as Clemens hit a 3-pointer, Walgren banked in a runner and Lerma completed a conventional three-point play. But Dillon scored four of Washington’s first six points, and the Demons only trailed 12-6 after one quarter of play.
“She’s hopefully starting to peak at the right time of the year, because she’s stuck playing the five spot when really she’s a three,” Washington head coach Phil Long said of Dillon.
Washington junior Stephanie Fishback hit a 3-pointer to open the second quarter and pull the Demons within three, but the Muskies scored the next nine points. Lerma converted another old-fashioned three-point play, and then Graettinger and Clemens hit back-to-back 3-pointers to push Muscatine’s lead to 21-9 with five minutes left in the first half.
But the Demons closed the gap before the intermission. Fishback grabbed an offensive rebound and found Dillon for a layup with 53 seconds left, and then after another Fishback offensive rebound, junior Dema Giardino laid the ball in and got fouled. She made the free throw to trim Muscatine’s lead to 28-23 at the half.
“To be down five at halftime, I thought, ‘Wow,’ especially after it had been 21-9,” Long said. “All of a sudden, I looked up and it was 28-23 at halftime. So we finished with a flurry. All of a sudden, we got five quick ones. That’s kind of our season in a nutshell, those quick flurries of points. But tonight we played a team that can flurry it in just as fast as we can if you don’t identify shooters.”
Muscatine’s flurry came at the end of the third quarter, and effectively sealed the win for the Muskies.
“I was pleased with our second half and the way we continued to attack and continued to shoot the ball,” Orvis said. “It was nice to get a couple to fall.”
Even though Washington (10-4) has now lost back-to-back games to ranked opponents, Long was pleased with how his team battled against one of the best teams in the state.
“For a 19-point loss, I actually feel pretty good,” Long said. “At least it wasn’t 72-25. We didn’t stink it up and embarrass the program. I told them afterward, ‘You didn’t embarrass the program. You ran into the best team you’ll see all year and for the most part you held serve.’”