WAUKESHA - Sophomore guard Bri Jashinsky from Sussex Hamilton scored 13 of her season-high 22 points in the first half to lead the fourth-seeded UWM-Waukesha women's basketball team to a 64-29 victory over fifth-seeded UWM-Washington in a Wisconsin Collegiate Conference quarterfinal playoff game at the UWM-Waukesha Field House on Thursday night.
It was the fifth victory of the season for hard-working UWM-Waukesha, which improved to 5-12 overall and advanced to the prestigious WCC Final Four with the gritty, determined Valentine's Day performance.
The cagey Cougars are scheduled to face top-seeded UW-Fond du Lac, 9-4 overall, in the state semifinals at JustAgame Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells on Saturday, Feb. 23.
It will be the second consecutive state tournament appearance and third in the last four years for UWM-Waukesha, the defending WCC state runner-up and a longtime traditional Wisconsin junior college powerhouse.
UWM-Waukesha outscored the Wildcats 38-20 in what became a decisive first half, including a decisive 26-12 margin in the second quarter.
The Cougars, who were forced to compete with only five players following an early first-quarter game-ending knee injury suffered by Mukwonago sophomore wing Taylor Peterson, showcased their mental toughness and athleticism by fighting through the tension-filled situation with a trip to state on the line.
All five players made valuable contributions in the victory and reached the scoring column for UWM-Waukesha, highlighted by four in double figures.
Freshman forward Kylah Schmidt from Slinger followed with 13 points and freshman point guard Aleah Herron from Milwaukee Rufus King contributed 12 points for the Cougars, who converted three baskets from 3-point range in the contest. Sophomore wing Ariel Gonzales from Milwaukee Lutheran had 11 points and freshman forward Rataeshia Hartfield from Milwaukee Rufus King added six points.
UWM-Waukesha third-year head coach David Beebe was proud of how his team fought through the adversity and persevered.
"It wasn't a pretty game but we battled through it, built a nice lead and finished out on a strong note," said Beebe, of the effort. "Even though we were forced to go with five players, didn't shoot the ball well and just couldn't get a call to go our way at times, we fought through the adversity and came away with the playoff victory.
"Now we get to prepare for UW-Fond du Lac in the WCC Final Four. We have a lot of work to do but I know this team is hungry, wants to keep playing and doesn't want to see the season end just yet. We're looking forward to the next challenge so it will definitely feel good to get some good work in this week and play next Saturday."
Freshman forward Brianna Beilfuss scored a team-high 12 points for UWM-Washington, which ended the season 2-8 overall.
COUGAR FAST FACTS
What: The fourth-seeded UWM-Waukesha women's basketball team defeated fifth-seeded UWM-Washington 64-29 in a Wisconsin Collegiate Conference quarterfinal playoff game at the UWM-Waukesha Field House on Thursday night.
Record: 5-12 overall
Up Next: The Cougars will face top-seeded UW-Fond du Lac in a WCC state semifinal at JustAgame Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells on Saturday, Feb. 23.
Scoring Leaders: Bri Jashinsky (22 points), Kylah Schmidt (13 points), Aleah Herron (12 points), Ariel Gonzales (11 points), Rataeshia Hartfield (6 points)
Notable: UWM-Waukesha outscored the Wildcats 38-20 in what became a decisive first half, including a decisive 26-12 margin in the second quarter.