Wildcats Win Wild Finish For Semifinal Berth
Play Video Sarah McGee scored nine points and recorded three steals and one block in the Wildcats' win.
Sarah McGee scored nine points and recorded three steals and one block in the Wildcats' win.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

LACEY, Wash. – A magical run for No. 6 Central Washington will live another day after the Wildcats erased an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat No. 3 Simon Fraser 58-57 to reach the first GNAC semifinals in program history on Thursday at Marcus Pavilion. After scoring just 29 points in the first 38 minutes of action, Central Washington had an offensive explosion matching that sum in the final 12 minutes for the come-from-behind victory.

Once four games out of the playoff picture with seven games left in the season, Central Washington (15-14) has responded by winning seven of its last eight games bookended by narrow victories over Simon Fraser (24-7) and with two overtime wins in the regular season just to qualify for the GNAC Championships. The Wildcats will play in Friday’s semifinal game at noon against No. 2 Western Washington.

The Wildcats still trailed by double digits with five and a half minutes left in the game when Taylor Shaw drained a 3-pointer to start the CWU comeback. Taylor Baird added four points with two free throws and a lay-up and Sadie Mensing hit a jumper before Shaw scored again with 1:38 left in the game to give the Wildcats their first lead since the first quarter, 55-54.

The Clan responded with a lay-up by Ellen Kett to reclaim the lead with 31 seconds left in the game. Central Washington winded the clock down before finding Mensing open in the key for the go-ahead lay-up with six seconds left in the game for a 57-56 lead.

Kett again responded for Simon Fraser, drawing a foul before hitting both free throws with 4.8 seconds left in the game. On the final possession, Central Washington put the ball in the hands of the team’s leading scorer for the night, Jasmin Edwards. The senior point guard drove to the right and was fouled while going for a lay-up. Unable to get up to take the free throws, senior Kortney Grattic came off the bench to take a pair of free throws with the game on the line, knocking down both for the 58-57 win.

Edwards led the Wildcat offense with 12 points and five assists, and Baird added 10 points and five rebounds. Sarah McGee also tallied nine points and three steals for Central Washington.

Kett registered a game-high 22 points and seven assists. The Clan outrebounded CWU 45-31 led by a 14-rebound effort by Rachel Fradgley.

Simon Fraser led early in the third quarter 30-29 before holding the Wildcats scoreless for the next 6:53 while scoring 11 points of their own for a 41-29 lead late in the third quarter. The Clan’s leading scorer this season, Meg Wilson, left the game with an injury after just 11 minutes of play. The senior left the game without any points and never returned.

Central Washington advances to the semifinals in its third consecutive year playing in the tournament, while Simon Fraser had its streak of four consecutive trips to the semifinals snapped. The Clan will discover its NCAA playoff destiny on Sunday.