PENDLETON — The Pendleton Lady Bucks did nearly everything a team needs to do to capture a victory. They rebounded well. They were light on turnovers. They avoided foul trouble.
But the Bucks also missed shots.
A field-goal percentage in the low 20s kept Pendleton (2-3) from keeping pace with Walla Walla (Wash.) as the Bucks fell 46-34 on Tuesday night on Warberg Court.
“We just need to put the ball in the basket and we didn’t do that (Tuesday),” said Aaron Schmidt, Pendleton’s head coach. “It’s not like we weren’t getting good looks. We just didn’t put the ball in the basket.”
The Blue Devils from Walla Walla (5-0) shot nearly twice as well as Pendleton. The hot shooting allowed Walla Walla to make several extended runs during the course of the game that either made up deficits, or made the game look one-sided.
Pendleton opened its scoring valve in the game’s first few minutes, jumping out to a 7-0 lead. Junior Gabby Heehn scored five of those points, including her first 3-point shot of five total for the night.
But after making two of its first three shots to start the contest, Pendleton froze over. Walla Walla responded with its own 16-1 run to end the quarter. Buckaroos missed their next eight field goals during that time.
“We’re a really good team at coming out real fired up and getting ready to go,” senior Courtney Schumacher-Sweek said about her team’s quick start. “After we get a second to sit down, it kind of simmers a little bit. We just need to work on picking that back up and come off the bench strong after sitting for awhile.”
Schumacher-Sweek called it a mental lapse. Whatever the issue, Pendleton has proved suseptible to fierce opponent scoring runs this season following early game leads.
Trailing by three points at the half on Saturday, Clarkston (Wash.) used a 17-4 run to take control of the final game of the Red Lion Classic tournament. Pendleton wound up losing that game by 11.
The Lady Bucks’ uphill trudge toward a comeback got even more rocky after halftime when starting center Shelby Sanders rolled her ankle. The Bucks’ best inside threat made an attempt at a return but couldn’t bear the weight. She made for the locker room at the end of the third quarter.
“When she went out, it hurt us because we’re thin on the bench,” Schmidt said. “Shelby is a scorer for us down low.”
Sanders finished with just one point on three shots from the field. Heehn led Pendleton with 19 points — all of her baskets coming from 3-point territory or the free throw line.
Walla Walla had a pair of players hurt Pendleton from long range. Senior Maddie Jacobson led the Blue Devils with 19 points and 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point land, and freshman Mikayla Ferenz hit all of her three field goals from downtown.
“(Walla Walla is) going to make some noise in their league,” Schmidt said. “They’ve got some serious shooters.”