Dry spells of over five minutes at the end of each half negated a perfect start by Northwest Missouri State and turned a once promising upset bid into a 60-52 loss to No. 16 Central Missouri Saturday at the Multi-Purpose Building.
The Bearcats scored the game's first 14 points and held as much as a 16-point lead in the first half before a 10-0 Jennie run over the final 5:13 made the halftime score 28-26.
With the score tied at 50 and more than seven minutes remaining, Central closed the game on an 11-2 run and held Northwest scoreless for the final 5:25. The Bearcats last field goal came at the 7:26 mark.
The Bearcats fell to 10-7 overall and concluded the first half of conference play at 4-5. This was their second straight loss and fifth in six MIAA road games. Central Missouri improved to 15-2 overall and 6-2 in the MIAA.
After shooting 52.6 percent in the first half, Northwest declined to 9-24 (.375) in the second half, missed all five three-point attempts and went 6-13 (.462) at the foul line.
Over the final seven minutes, the Bearcats were 0-8 from the field and Maggie Marnin missed three straight free throw attempts.
Central Missouri shot less than 35 percent from the field and missed 13 free throws, but made up for it with seven three-pointers.
UCM guard BreAnna Lewis hit five in the second half and scored 21 of her game-high 23 points. She was also 6-7 at the foul line.
UCM's Keuna Flax missed 10 of her 14 shot attempts and eight free throws, but still finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Nicole Caddell finished with 11 points and six rebounds.
Northwest's most effective offensive options were Marnin and fellow sophomore post Annie Mathews.
Marnin finished with 14 points on 7-9 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. Mathews recorded her third double-double in the last four games with 10 points and a season-best 13 rebounds.
Northwest's top perimeter scorer was Ashley Thayer with eight points, all in the first half. She made two three-pointers. Monique Stevens and Tember Schechinger each had six points. Leading scorer Ashleigh Nelson missed all seven shot attempts and finished with only three points.
The Bearcats started the game by making their first six shots and led 14-0 with 14:29 left in the half.
Their lead grew to 24-8 on the second of back-to-back three's by Thayer.
Marnin and Stevens sat out the latter part of the first half with two fouls apiece, and that's when the Jennies made their run to get within two at half.
Lewis hit three three's within the first three minutes of the second half and two others over the next four minutes that gave Central a 46-40 lead with 13:09 to play.
Page 2 of 2 - The Bearcats countered with eight straight points and took a 48-46 lead on a Marnin jumper with 10:41 left.
Northwest led once more at 50-49 on a Schechinger layup.
A layup by Flax with 6:33 left put Central in front to stay.
Northwest returns to Bearcat Arena to close out January against Northeastern State (Okla.) Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The Bearcats have yet to lose a home game in conference play, but NSU is their toughest home opponent to date.