By RICK PETERSON
The Washburn University women's basketball team trailed No. 7-ranked Central Missouri by just a point at the end of the third quarter Thursday night at Lee Arena, but the Ichabods' upset bid came up short as the undefeated Jennies took control in the fourth quarter for a 67-53 MIAA victory.
Washburn, 6-6 overall, 2-4 in the MIAA, trailed 44-43 at the start of the fourth quarter but Central Missouri ripped off a 12-2 scoring run over the first 4:05 of the period to take its largest lead of the contest at 56-45.
Washburn would get no closer than nine points the rest of the way as the Jennies (12-0, 8-0) outscored the Ichabods 23-10 in the final quarter.
"There were positives,'' Washburn coach Lora Westling said. "We had three quarters of positives and I think that's what makes the fourth quarter so disappointing.
"We told them that when we're in those situations where we're ready to compete we've got to have better enthusiasm from our upperclassmen. We've got to have better punch. A lot of positives, but we want to win that game.''
The Ichabods fell behind 9-0 to start the game and did not score their first basket until the 6:16 mark of the first quarter, but Washburn finished the quarter on a 6-2 run to cut Central Missouri's lead to 18-14.
Both teams struggled to score to start the second quarter until the Jennies hit a 3-pointer with 6:51 on the clock for the first points of the quarter.
Washburn trailed 23-16 with 3:49 left in the first half when junior Aubree Dewey drained a 3-pointer to spark an 11-2 burst for the Ichabods to even the score at 27 apiece.
The Jennies made a jump shot to break the tie, but were held scoreless for the final two minutes while Washburn ended the half with four unanswered points to take a 31-29 lead at halftime.
It was back-and-forth scoring in the third quarter with six ties and five lead changes and neither team leading by more than two until Central Missouri built a 44-41 advantage at 2:44 with a 5-0 run.
Washburn's Emma Chapman made a layup on the following possession for the final points of the quarter to trim the deficit to one, 44-43.
Both teams had nearly the same shooting percentage from the field as Washburn shot 36.8 percent (21 of 57) and Central Missouri finished at 36.5 percent (23 of 63).
From 3-point range, UCM hit five of 12 and WU made three of 13 from deep. At the free throw line, the Jennies made 16 of their 19 attempts while the Ichabods were eight of 13. UCM finished with 10 more rebounds, 44-34, and turned its 17 offensive boards into 13 points.
Dewey made six of 10 attempts from the field and sank both her 3-point attempts to total a team-high 15 points. Freshman Yibari Nwidadah recorded 10 points and six rebounds while freshman Natalia Figueroa had nine points and Chapman six points and six rebounds.
Brooke Littrell scored a game-high 27 points for Central Missouri.
Washburn will be at home Saturday for a 1 p.m. MIAA contest againt Lincoln.