The Muscatine girls basketball team refused to go away Tuesday night.
Not when Bettendorf drilled eight first-half 3-pointers to build a 17-point halftime lead. And not when the Bulldogs held a 19-point lead with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Muskies stormed back with a run to cut the deficit to five midway through the fourth quarter but they were unable to complete the comeback in a 65-56 home loss Tuesday night.
“Unfortunately we got behind as far as we did,” Muscatine coach Susan Orvis said. “Credit to Bettendorf, they knocked down shots. Our kids came out (in the second half) and said hey if we can get this thing down to 10 we have a shot here. I really appreciate the way they came out.”
However, Bettendorf (8-1, 6-1 MAC) built too big of a first-half lead for Muscatine (2-8, 2-5 MAC) to overcome. The Bulldogs entered Tuesday’s game with 37 made 3-pointers on the season and a 32.7 percent shooting percentage from beyond the arc. So the Muskies focused their attention on Kylie Wroblewski, who entered Tuesday as the Bulldogs leading scorer at 19 points per game.
“We had to give some attention to the paint because Wroblewski has been tearing it up,” Orvis said. “You have to bring some help down there.”
However, Bettendorf made Muscatine pay by sinking 8-of-9 shots from beyond the arc in the opening half to take a 39-22 halftime lead.
“Certainly after they hit two or three we have to understand we have to recover quicker and make an adjustment,” Orvis said. “That’s what got away from us in the first half there. Coming in they’re a 32 percent 3-point shooting team so we knew we’d give up at least a couple of looks.
“They haven’t shot the ball that well all year which is a credit to Bettendorf.”
The Bulldogs made their first five shots of the game, three of which were 3-pointers. Even so, the Muskies trailed by just seven, 21-14, at the end of the first quarter. That was thanks in large part to sophomore Alicia Garcia, who scored 12 of her game-high 22 points in the opening quarter in what Orvis thought was her most aggressive game of the season.
“That’s what we know she can do,” Orvis said of Garcia. "We’ve just seen glimpses of it but I think the confidence is coming. Certainly, when she plays like that you can see the boost it gives to us.”
However, the Bulldogs continued their scorching hot start from beyond the arc in the second quarter and stretched their lead to 19 on a 3-pointer by Allison Brownson late in the quarter. The Bettendorf senior entered Tuesday averaging 5.9 points per game but scored 18 to lead the Bulldogs.
With Bettendorf leading by 19 late in the third quarter, it was a Muscatine 3-pointer by Macey Rogers, who had 10 points, which started an 18-4 run to cut a 47-28 deficit to 51-46.
“I think for us so much of it is tempo,” Orvis said. “We can get down the floor and get a couple quick hits in transition or a couple steals I just start to see them roll a little bit.”
Emily Wopeking scored 11 points in the game, and four during the Muskies’ run, and she helped set the tempo that sparked the Muskies.
“She can do that for us,” Orvis said. “She’s going to get right in there, rip the ball out and go strong to the rim. That’s what we need and she’s led the process for us.”
However, the Muskies never got any closer. A few bad bounces helped Bettendorf keep Muscatine at arms-length down the stretch and escape with a win.
“Man, we had a couple loose balls out there in the middle we just couldn’t get two hands on,” Orvis said. “A couple breaks down at this end, one call went against us and a ball bounced to (Wroblewski) for a layup off our fingers which is a tough break.
"Hopefully, we don’t get into such a hole early because then those things don’t matter.”