Trisha Wippler and the Central Lakes College Raiders took a step forward Friday against the St. Cloud Tech Cyclones, but unfortunately the result was the same.
The Raiders dropped their eighth game 66-56 and are still in search of their first win on the season, but in doing so coach Dennis Eastman saw signs of improvement.
Wippler and the Raiders shot just 13.9 percent in the first half, including a drought expanding more than seven minutes without a made field goal. The result was clear - a 16-point deficit entering the intermission.
"The first half was taking one pass and shooting it," Raiders coach Dennis Eastman.
It appeared the Raiders' troubles would continue in the second half as the Cyclones scored the first four points, ballooning their lead to a high of 20.
CLC responded as Kavanaugh knocked down a three, sparking a 13-5 run that lasted just less than two minutes.
Cassie Pearson, the Raiders' leading scorer with 19.9 points per contest, was held to five points in the second half, but that didn't stop the Raiders' from overcoming their first half-shooting woes. The Raiders converted better than 40 percent and outscored the Cyclones 38-32 in the second half.
"We decided just to move the ball around a little bit more," Eastman said. "Other people had to step up and we just can't rely on one person."
With Pearson's touches limited, Wippler was the first to step up as she stripped a Cyclone ball handler and turned up court for an old-fashioned 3-point-play.
"She's been playing really well and she's the one who sparked us in the second half," Eastman said. "She comes off the bench and just plays really hard. She's our spark... I need someone to come off the bench and get people fired up, and she does that really well."
Wippler did more than just put the ball through the rim however, as she added 10 rebounds and four assists - both team highs.
After scoring a solitary point through the first 20 minutes, Carissa Utsch also came up big in the second half as she connected on four of five attempts finishing with 10 points and three assists for the Raiders.
CLC's defense also stepped up by limiting the Cyclones leading scorer, JaRae Ellefson. An aggravated Ellefson allowed her emotions to get the best of her, as she committed six turnovers and fouled out with more than 10 minutes remaining.
With the defensive focus on Ellefson, Brittnay Simmons and Brooke Dunsmoor became the difference makers for the Cyclones scoring 22 and 18 points respectively.
We were worried about (Ellefson)," Eastman said. "She's the one that was supposed to be the good shooter. Then Simmons came on and caught us by surprise. We knew she could shoot, but we just didn't get our hand up and close out properly on her."
Simmons knocked down just two second-half field goals, but converted five of six from the line while Dunsmoor's big second half resulted in 11 points, including 3-4 from the charity line and 4-for-6 from the field.
St. Cloud Tech 34 32 - 66
Central Lakes 18 38 - 56
St. Cloud Tech
Brittnay Simmons 22, Brooke Dunsmoor 18, JaRae Ellefson, Samie Fuchs 8, Vicki Swenson 3, Jenna Ashely 2, Vicki Swenson 2. FG 22-66 (33 percent), FT 15-25 (60 percent), 3-point baskets: 7-23 (Simmons 3, Ellefson 2, Fuchs 2).
Cassie Pearson 15, Carissa Utsch 10, Brittany Gravelle 4, Trisha Wippler 9, Carlee Davich 8, Alicia Johnson 1, Caitlin Kavanaugh 9. FG 18-68 (26.5 percent), FT 14-25 (56 percent), 3-point baskets: 6-26 (Kavanaugh 3, Davich 2, Wippler 1). Overall: 0-8. Next: Fergus Falls 6 p.m. Friday.
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