WAUKESHA - Challenging early season matchups can often force a team to play with a heightened sense of urgency and accelerate the learning process.
The UWM-Waukesha women's basketball team learned that lesson firsthand as it lost to UW-Marinette 67-46 in a Wisconsin Collegiate Non-Conference game at the UWM-Waukesha Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon.
It was the second consecutive home-court loss of the young season for UWM-Waukesha, which dropped to 0-2 overall following the inspired rematch of last year's WCC state semifinals.
The Cougars led 24-21 late in the first half but yielded what proved to be a decisive 10-0 run over the course of the final three minutes.
It became the turning point in the contest as UWM-Waukesha was outscored 36-22 over the course of the final 20 minutes, including a 19-11 margin in the pivotal third quarter.
Sophomore guard/forward Taylor Peterson from Mukwonago, sophomore guard/forward Bri Jashinsky from Sussex Hamilton and freshman point guard Aleah Herron from Milwaukee Rufus King each scored 11 points for the Cougars, who made seven baskets from 3-point range, 7 of 19 free throws and shot 28.6 percent from field-goal range. Sophomore post player Ariel Gonzales from Milwaukee Lutheran contributed 9 points and team-high 10 rebounds with freshman post player Kylah Schmidt from Slinger adding four points with eight rebounds.
Freshman guard Rataeshia Hartfield from Milwaukee Rufus King was injured near the end of the first quarter but showcased her resilience and mental toughness by battling back to contribute valuable minutes in the second half.
Jashinsky, one of three returning players from last year's WCC state tournament team, converted two 3-pointers in the showdown of fierce rivals - scoring eight of her points over the course of the final two quarters.
"In my eyes, it wasn't a loss and this experience will only help in our progression as the season goes on," said Jashinsky, who made a long-range 3-pointer from the right side of the perimeter as the Cougars regained a 24-21 lead with 3:22 left in the first half. "Coming into the season with only six players on the roster, we knew from the start it was going to be a tough first semester. Even though that's the situation at this point, we're playing pretty well, getting to know one another and improving each time we step on the floor.
"Like most teams, we're in the process of establishing our style of game, have had a few early season hiccups and continue to work hard on developing a good chemistry. Today, we had a lead but then something just happened at the end of the second quarter. We attempted to push through it but just couldn't get back on track. Even though it didn't work out in our favor, it was like night and day compared to last week's season opener so we're looking forward to the games to come."
UWM-Waukesha third-year head coach David Beebe, who guided the Cougars to the WCC state championship game last year, was encouraged by the aggressive effort of his determined six-player roster.
"The first quarter really showcased the potential of our six players," said Beebe, referring to his team's 19-15 lead at the end of the opening 10 minutes. "I was extremely proud and impressed by how we asserted ourselves early on and managed to hang with them. It will only give us confidence and serve as a good building block in the weeks to come.
At this point in the season, I'm not expecting us to play a perfect game. Looking at some of the adversity we've been faced with early on, our main focus simply remains on improving each time we step on the court. We're just going to take it day by day, make positive strides and continue to move forward."
COUGAR FAST FACTS
What: The UWM-Waukesha women's basketball team lost to UW-Marinette 67-46 in a Wisconsin Collegiate Conference game at the UWM-Waukesha Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon.
Records: 0-2 overall
Scoring Leaders: Taylor Peterson (11 points), Bri Jashinsky (11 points), Aleah Herron (11 points), Ariel Gonzales (9 points), Kylah Schmidt (4 points)
Notable: The Cougars led 24-21 late in the first half but yielded what proved to be a decisive 10-0 run over the course of the final three minutes.