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Comeback stifled in waning minutes for the Braves

Even with junior MacKenzie Westcott’s most prolific performance of her career, the Braves could not capitalize on a comeback and dropped a game to the Wichita State Shockers 81-74.

Westcott’s 24 points, seven rebounds and two blocks led the Braves against the Shockers, who sit directly above them in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.

Westcott’s physical play got her to the free-throw line 15 times, which helped keep the offensively inconsistent Braves in the game until the end.

With six minutes left and the Braves down by 10, junior Hanna Muegge completed a four-point play, followed by two Westcott free throws. The lead was cut to four.

Back and forth, both defenses dueled their offensive counterparts to a standstill until a Westcott three-pointer and a pair of free throws by senior Raisa Taylor slashed the lead to two at 71-69.

Just as the game was in reach, the Braves reverted to the inconsistent offensive play that plagued them all game.

After a dagger from beyond the arc by Shockers guard Morgan Boyd, the Braves failed to score  on their next two possessions and watched a comeback slip away.

“We are frustrated,” said coach Paula Buscher. “I feel like we picked a really bad time to struggle offensively.”

A 33 percent field-goal percentage in the first half bogged down the Braves’ efforts in the end.

Sophomore Katie Yohn shot below her season average, managing just 3-15 from the field. Taylor chipped in with 13 points but also struggled, shooting a pedestrian 30 percent from the field.

Yohn and Taylor helped the Braves produce on the boards, each grabbing eight rebounds. With their combined effort, the Braves out-rebounded the

Shockers, though many of those boards came off their own missed shots.

“This is a group that fights, they’re tough,” said Buscher. “They stay at you. We just have to execute a little bit better.”

The Shockers offense, which shot 55 percent from the field, was anchored by five players in double figures.

Sharp-shooting Boyd led the Shockers off the bench with 19 points, followed by backcourt teammates Haleigh Lankster and Jessica Diamonds with 15 and 14 points, respectively.

Their consistent offense led the Shockers to a 12-point lead with eight minutes left to play. Though the Braves whittled the score down, the Shockers kept the Braves at bay, shooting 47 percent from behind the three-point line.

With the loss, the Braves ended up with only one victory during their three-game road trip. The next home game is scheduled for Saturday at 7:05 p.m. against Missouri State.

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