Missed free throws down the stretch doomed the Rangers.
By Alejandro Diaz
Northwest Vista College’s Wildcats held on for the victory as they beat the Rangers 73-66 in an intense game Wednesday in Huisache Hall at Northwest Vista College.
The Rangers were on target for a big comeback as they clawed their way back into the game after falling to an 18-point deficit midway though the third quarter.
The Wildcats had slowly powered their way to a 58-40 lead capped by a fast break that Wildcat center Emily Castor turned into a layup, forcing Rangers coach Haley Capestany to call a timeout with 4:37 left in the third quarter.
The timeout worked, and the Rangers reacted in a big way, going on a 13-0 run to end the quarter strong, not allowing the Wildcats to score during that stretch and setting the score at 58-53 at the end of the third quarter.
The Rangers cut the lead to 1 point at the start of the fourth quarter, but that was the closest they got and they were unable to complete the comeback.
The Wildcats snapped out of their daze and held on in the final stretch of the game, setting the final score at 73-66.
Capestany said after the game that poor execution down the stretch, especially with the free throws, doomed the Rangers.
“It’s just the small things that killed them … rebounding and missing free throws,” Capestany said.
“Had they made their free throws, they would’ve won the ball game.”
The Rangers missed 12 free throws in the second half, including two crucial ones by kinesiology freshman Destiny Solis in the final seconds of the game.
Solis, who has been one of the best players for the Rangers this season, was involved in a brawl that ended the Nov. 4 game against the Southwest Texas Junior College Cowgirls with the Rangers leading 56-48 at the 2:31 mark of the fourth quarter.
Possible suspensions for the players involved in the scuffle or the outcome of the game are still unknown as Capestany declined comment regarding that game.
Wednesday’s game started with the Wildcats racing to a 10-2 lead in the first three minutes after back-to-back steals by Wildcats guard Britney Bazo that were turned into easy layups.
The Rangers stayed in the game thanks to the stellar play of kinesiology sophomore Cheyenne Baxa, who scored 12 of the Rangers’ 16 first-quarter points and consistently won rebounds at both ends of the floor.
In the second quarter both teams increased their intensity as they played fast-paced possessions but lost accuracy. Neither team scored a single point in over two minutes.
The Wildcats, however, pushed their lead to double digits and led 43-31at the half.
The third quarter was an exchange of momentum between both teams. The Wildcats picked up where they had left off in the second quarter and opened an 18-point lead halfway through the third quarter.
The Rangers snatched the momentum after a timeout during which Capestany urged her players to put more effort on the defensive end. The Rangers seemed to have listened, as they cut the lead to 5 points and, in the process, didn’t allow the Wildcats to score a single point in the last 4:37 of the quarter.
When it seemed the Rangers were going to tie and run away with the game after they cut the lead to 1 at the start of the final quarter, the Wildcats reacted and scored 6 unanswered points that gave them a 7-point lead with 7:30 left in the game.
The Rangers made one final push in the closing minutes, but the Wildcats held on for the victory.
The Rangers will visit the St. Philip’s College Tigers at 6 p.m. Nov. 18 in the Health and Fitness Center.