Friday night’s game left sophomore Natalie Neveau a little shaken.
“I’m still a little nerve-wracked,” the 5-foot-6 post said. “The Dalles are scrappy. They go after everything.”
The Bucks just scraped past The Dalles 40-34 to remain undefeated in Intermountain Conference action. The two teams kept within two points of each other for the meat of the first half before a couple of key runs in the second gave Pendleton the edge.
“I expected us to win, no question,” said Bucks coach Kevin Porter. “But I told the girls that it would be a dog fight the entire time. The Dalles is tough every game. I knew we’d have to grind it out.”
The score tied three times in the first half alone before Neveau and junior Sami Spriet scored four straight points to take the first quarter, 9-6.
Pendleton coughed up the lead in the second quarter after Riverhawks junior Jenna Miller sank a 3-pointer for a 14-11 Dalles lead with 4:27 left to go. The Riverhawks stayed up front for the next three minutes until Bucks sophomore Josie Wilson closed the half with a basket to put Pendleton ahead 18-17.
It was in the second half that Neveau and senior Katie Bradt kicked into high gear. Neveau scored four straight points and Bradt scored six points in mid-quarter three to allow the Bucks some distance. A 3-pointer from Spriet also helped keep Pendleton alive.
“Katie is one of our captains. She took it upon herself tonight and rose to the occasion,” Porter said. “That’s what you look for in a senior leader. And Natalie never gets denied.”
Although the Bucks led by eight points going into the final quarter, The Dalles kept them on their toes, coming within three points of the lead with just 1:34 left to play.
Bradt and freshman Muriel Hoisington missed their free throws that would’ve lessened the tension, but Neveau came back once again to save the day, grabbing an offensive rebound to score, and put in another point at the line for good measure to close the game.
“We got ourselves together and mentally regrouped during halftime,” Neveau said. “We prepared ourselves for a challenge and came out ready for a fight. When it mattered, we pulled through. I feel great.”
Neveau posted a team-best 14 points and eight rebounds for Pendleton (6-10, 3-0 IMC). Bradt followed with 11 points and six rebounds.
The Bucks will take a break from league play to host La Grande on Tuesday.
A strong second-quarter run put Pendleton out front for good en route to their second IMC victory.
The Bucks (11-5, 2-1 IMC) topped The Dalles 81-60 on Friday night.
“We started off slow, but kicked it into gear and finished well,” said coach Zach Dong.
Pendleton barely made off with the first quarter, 21-19, but beefed up their defense in the second quarter to guarantee the game was in their hands. They outscored the Riverhawks 22-8.
“We switched zones and slowed their (the Riverhawks’) tempo down,” Dong said.
The Dalles hit a scoring run in the third quarter that brought them too close for comfort, but senior guard Cam Sanford hit a timely 3-pointer to keep the Bucks on top.
Senior guard Tyler Newsom posted 28 points to lead Pendleton, and sophomore guard Dakota Sams sank 24, with six 3s. But it was The Dalles’ Jake Hernandez who had the best game, posting 30 points for the night.
“He was tough to guard,” Dong said of Hernandez. “He was really crafty, and got some big shots.”
Dong said it was a well-rounded game for his entire team, noting that junior post Tanner Sweek had his season’s strongest showing.
“Tanner shot really well from the midrange, and he rebounded well,” Dong said.
The Bucks will hit the road to La Grande on Tuesday for a nonleague contest.