Wildcats Survive Quarterfinals Slugfest With Simon Fraser
Sunshine Huerta scored 11 of her 18 points for Central Washington in the first half. Photo by Rio Giancarlo.
Sunshine Huerta scored 11 of her 18 points for Central Washington in the first half. Photo by Rio Giancarlo.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

SEATTLE – Simon Fraser gave Central Washington all it could handle Thursday but in the end the Wildcats had too many offensive weapons.

Led by a 26-point performance by senior guard Kizzah Maltezo, the No. 3 seeded Wildcats advanced to the semifinals of the GNAC Women’s Basketball Championships with a 91-85 victory over No. 6 seeded Simon Fraser at Royal Brougham Pavilion.

Maltezo connected on 10 of 16 as the Wildcats finished the afternoon shooting 47 percent from the field and 21 of 23 from the free-throw line. Senior forward Kassidy Malcolm finished with 19 points. Junior center Samantha Bowman notched a double-double of 16 points and 16 rebounds to go with five assists and freshman guard Sunshine Huerta scored 18 points, 11 of which came in the first half.

Simon Fraser sophomore guard/forward Jessica Wisotski led all scorers with 29 points, connecting on 11 of 19 from the field and 4 of 8 from three-point range. Senior guard Jessica Jones scored 14 points with seven assists while freshman forward Gemma Cutler had a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds.

With the win, Central Washington (21-7) advances to play the winner of this afternoon’s game between Alaska Anchorage and Seattle Pacific in the GNAC Championships semifinals, which will take place at noon on Saturday at Marcus Pavilion in Lacey. Simon Fraser ends its season at 12-14.

Central Washington pulled out to the early lead in the first quarter, going up 11-5 on Huerta’s three-pointer at the 6:42 mark. Senior forward Claudia Hart connected two possessions later to spark a 7-0 run that ended when Wisotzki’s lay-in gave SFU a 12-11 lead. Simon Fraser held as much as a five-point lead before the Wildcats came back to tie it at 21-21 on Malcolm’s jumper with 2:05 to go, but Wisotzki and sophomore guard Grace Killins combined to score on back-to-back positions and give SFU the 26-23 lead.

Simon Fraser took its largest lead of the first half, 37-30, on Hart’s lay-in just over a minute into the second quarter. The Wildcats chipped the lead away over the next six minutes and went ahead 42-41 on another Huerta three-pointer with 3:12 left. After a two-minute scoring drought for both teams, Bowman connected on a lay-in with a minute left that allowed CWU the 44-43 halftime advantage.

The Wildcats did what they could to pull away in the third quarter. Bowman scored off the fastbreak to put CWU up 60-54 midway through the period. Maltezo’s driving lay-in put the Wildcats up nine while freshman forward Claire Heitschmidt’s three-pointer gave the Wildcats their biggest lead of the game. 73-63, with 1:16 to go in the period.

Simon Fraser closed to within six points to end the third and made it close late, taking the 80-79 lead on Jones’ lay-in with 3:12 remaining. Central Washington took the lead for good on Maltezo’s three-point play on the next possession and closed the game out at the free-throw line, hitting 9 of 10 over the final three minutes.