COEUR d’ALENE — Moscow survived the 4A IEL loser-out game with a 38-34 win over Sandpoint on Monday night at North Idaho College.
“All the girls worked hard to put us within a few points away from winning,” Sandpoint head coach Will Love said. “But The thing we couldn’t take advantage of in the first half was finishing at the rim.”
Scoring had been hard to come by in previous match-ups with Moscow. Monday night’s game was no exception: Both teams shot worse than 40 percent from the field, and neither team could capitalize on second-chance points.
“At one point, we missed three layups in a row,” Love said. “They were contested layups, but we were still getting to the basket. We weren’t able to finish and get a cushion that would’ve helped us out later.”
Sandpoint sophomore forward Hattie Larson set the tone early by attacking the basket and cleaning up on the defensive glass. Larson finished with a game-high 16 points, nine rebounds, three steals and a block.
“[In Larson] we’ve seen the natural growth progression as a player in their sophomore year,” Love said. “For her to finish with 16 points and nine rebounds, that speaks to how much she’s grown as a player.”
Sandpoint struggled shooting in the first half, as the Bulldogs went 5-18 (27.7 percent) from the field. Moscow shot 6-16 from the field and wasn’t able to take advantage Sandpoint’s slump.
The floodgates burst in the third quarter. Larson led the charge to reclaim the lead for the Bulldogs, but Moscow junior forward Rheanna Anderson countered on the next possession with her first three of the night.
For a winner-take-all match-up, one would be hard-pressed to find one as evenly-matched as Monday night’s elimination game. Both teams ended with 26 rebounds and 13 turnovers. Before Moscow took a six-point lead late in the fourth quarter, there were 11 lead changes, three ties and no team had led by more than four points.
Trailing 26-24 heading into the fourth, Moscow snapped out of its funk and opened the quarter on an 8-0 run in less than 90 seconds. Anderson, whose 14 points were a team-high, scored on a put-back on the Bears’ first possession. Moscow’s defense held its ground on the other end, but came up empty on their first two three-point attempts. Sandpoint had two attempts at rebounding the misses, but Brooklen Steiger and Larson couldn’t corral the rebounds.
Moscow senior Makena Rauch’s third three ended up being the charm; it became the basket that put Moscow ahead for good.
Sandpoint’s guards continued attacking the basket in the fourth, as Izzo Edwards and Kaylee Banks got layups to fall, but the shots weren’t falling — not to mention the offensive fouls and turnovers underneath the basket that made coming back an uphill battle.
The Bulldog defense also opened the door for late surges. Larson and Steiger drew critical charges on what would be wide-open Moscow transition layups. And despite being in the bonus, Moscow went 3-7 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
Moscow freshman Peyton Watson finished with three points but a game-high 10 boards. Sandpoint’s Dawson Driggs finished with 10 points.
The Bears (8-13) play Lakeland at NIC on Tuesday. Sandpoint finishes its first season under Will Love with a 5-15 record.
Moscow 9 5 10 14 — 38
Sandpoint 6 7 13 8 — 34
MOSCOW — M. Watson 2, Rauch 6, Verlin 0, Claus 7, P. Watson 3, Anderson 14, Baker 0, Paine 0, Jung 6, Bazzoli 0, Hanson 0.
SANDPOINT — Driggs 10, Morgan 2, Banks 2, Larson 16, Petit 2, Edwards 2, Steiger 0, Lish 0, Anderson 0.