LINCOLN, Neb. – A late fourth-quarter rally helped Nebraska Wesleyan escape with a narrow 83-81 victory over the Westminster women's basketball team on Tuesday night. The Blue Jays fall to 1-2 on the season with the loss.
"We had a tough loss tonight to a scrappy Nebraska Wesleyan team," said Westminster Head Coach Talisha Washington. "They capitalized on a lot of their second chance opportunities and that hurt us down the stretch. Our girls fought hard to the end and put up a great team effort night."
Reese Arnold got off to a hot start with a pair of three-pointers and layup to give the Blue Jays an 8-2 lead early in the first quarter. Nebraska Wesleyan battled back to retake the lead 9-8 and forced a timeout by Westminster. After the timeout, Kallee Dowler knocked down a shot from beyond-the-arc to bring the score to 11-9 in favor of Westminster. The Blue Jays extended the lead to 13-9 on a layup by Mikalyn Callahan. The Prairie Wolves ended the quarter on 12-4 run to take a 21-17 lead.
The Prairie Wolves held on to the lead until Rei Imamura made a three-pointer to put the Blue Jays ahead 33-32 with a little over three minutes left in the second quarter. The lead was short-lived as the Prairie Wolves scored on a layup to go up 34-33. Following the layup, they scored another basket off a Westminster turnover to extend the lead to 36-33. Jackie Arnold cut the lead to a point with a layup before the Prairie Wolves converted two free throw attempts to bring the margin back to three points. In the final two minutes of the half, Nebraska Wesleyan went shot 5-6 from the free-throw line and added a layup to take a 43-39 lead into halftime.
In the opening minutes of the third quarter, Callahan grabbed an offensive rebound and made a basket to cut the lead to two points. She then tied the game at 43-43 with a layup after a turnover by the Prairie Wolves. After Nebraska Wesleyan scored twice to go up 47-43 Dowler and Imamura made three-pointers to put the Blue jays on top 49-47. After the Prairie Wolves gained the lead back the Blue Jays went on 15-4 run in the final three minutes of the half to take a 66-60 lead into the final quarter.
With 5:08 on the clock in the fourth quarter, Corrie Reece uncorked a three-pointer to give their Blue Jays a 76-66 lead. The Prairie Wolves cut the lead down to six points off a jumper and a pair of free throws before Reese Arnold made a three to bring the score to 79-70 with 3:15 to play. From there Nebraska Wesleyan went on a 10-point run and took an 80-79 lead on a made free throw to complete a three-point point. After a timeout by Westminster Reese Arnold gave the Blue Jays the lead back with a layup with 1:21 remaining. The Prairie Wolves marched down the court and went up 82-81 on a jump shot with just 54 seconds left in the contest. The Blue Jays were called for a foul on their next possession and Nebraska Wesleyan extend their lead to two points with a free throw with 25 seconds on the clock. Westminster grabbed two offensive boards in the final seconds but could not put the ball in the basket and the Prairie Wolves held on for an 83-81 win.
Reese Arnold went 5-8 from three-point range and led the Blue Jays with 22 points and four steals. Jackie Arnold finished the game 17 points off the bench. Callahan put up 18 points and tied Abbie Reece for the team lead in rebounds with nine.
The Blue Jays will return home to play Wartburg on Sunday afternoon.