PENDLETON - After matching Intermountain Conference front-runner Summit blow for blow through the first three quarters, the Pendleton girls' basketball team took seven minutes and 20 seconds to get on the board in the fourth Saturday as the Storm ran away with the 46-31 win.
Pendleton (12-8, 6-6 IMC) trailed 29-27 entering the frame but got away from the things that had allowed them to stick with Summit (17-3, 11-1 IMC), which is ranked sixth in the coaches poll and completed a season sweep of Eastern Oregon with the win.
"I think the first three quarters they really decided to play defense by the rules we set for them," Pendleton coach Ryan Sams said. "That fourth quarter they tried to do it on their own and I told them, 'If you try to do it alone as an individual you're going to leave your teammates out to dry.' And that's what happened.
"Girls were leaking out, acting like they were going to try and get a layup or something and it basically came down to we never could score in the fourth."
Summit's Christy Mosier said they felt it would just be a matter of time before they could take control of the game.
"We just had to keep our composure. We know we're the better team," she said. "They came out fired up and we knew that coming in so we just needed to keep taking it at them and our shots finally started to drop in."
The Bucks spent the first three quarters playing a tight 2-3 zone that kept the Storm's top three scorers in check. But a defensive lapse to start the fourth allowed Summit to steal the game's momentum with an Amelia Mondry three-pointer, followed by an inside bucket by Taylor Pierce.
Pendleton couldn't hit a pair of inside shots over the same span and seemed to lose confidence in their half-court offense as a result.
"We weren't attacking the basket and we weren't getting in our plays," Buck senior Alexis Doutre said. "I think some people just got down on themselves and we just couldn't play like we should in the fourth quarter."
The Bucks were already in trouble by the time Summit went into the bonus with 6:08 left in the game and 8-of-11 free throw shooting by the Storm in the fourth made sure the Bucks wouldn't mount a comeback.
"As soon as we got a few points up, that's our rhythm and we just kept up with it and we put it away," Mosier said.
Summit's Mondry led the game with 14 points while Mosier added 12. Doutre scored seven to tie Sam McCloud for the Bucks' team lead.
Pendleton had one of their best games for taking care of the ball, committing 16 turnovers, but forced Summit into just 14.
The Bucks got some help from Crook County in the form of a Hermiston loss, creating a three-way tie for third place between Pendleton, Hermiston and Bend. Madras and Mountain View are a game back at 5-7.
With two games left in the regular season, Pendleton has the easiest road to a playoff berth, facing just one opponent still alive in the playoff race (Hermiston, Feb. 20).
The Bucks still may need to win out, though, because Bend has won their last five games and Hermiston will host Madras in the Dawghouse where they have been tough despite a pair of back-to-back losses.
Pendleton plays at winless The Dalles Wahtonka (2-16, 0-12 IMC) on Tuesday in a game that is anything but an easy win.
The Eagle Indians have put together two solid games on their home court, losing by three points each to Mountain View and Bend this week.