By Mike Pilosof
Independence, KS-Following his team's loss to Allen on Saturday night, Garden City Coach Nick Salazar was visibly frustrated.
"Our struggles are all on me," he said. "I put this team together."
On Wednesday, his team had a chance to end a five-game skid, but a five-minute scoring drought in the fourth quarter was too much to overcome.
Erica Moore tied a season high with 17 points while her team grabbed 19 offensive rebounds and won the battle on the glass 42-34, as Independence enacted some revenge with a 54-46 victory over Garden City at Pirates Fieldhouse.
"You can't have stretches where you score six points early on and then don't score again," Salazar said. "It's unacceptable. I hope these players are as frustrated as I am."
Monica Barefield enjoyed one of her best shooting halves of the season, draining three treys in the first 11 minutes of the game. But Garden City (7-15, 5-13) still trailed by eight.
"We go through these lulls," Salazar said. "It happens every game."
The Broncbusters pushed their way back into the game in the second, holding the Pirates scoreless for the first 6:30 while reeling off seven straight points to pull to within one. They trailed by two at the half.
"I always tell our team that when you play on the road, you have to automatically come out like you're trailing by 10," Salazar said. "I thought our effort was there, but our execution, when we needed it, was not."
That effort kept Garden City within three going into the fourth. Then DeRae Lewis, who returned after serving a one-game suspension, hit two free throws to begin the final period. Then Barefield connected on her only field goal of the second half, and Kavita Akula drilled a deep 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Broncbusters a 43-39 edge with 7:32 to play.
"When you go in front, you have to have that killer mentality," Salazar said. "We don't have that. It's been that way all season."
Jay-Nee Alston, who missed a game-tying triple when the teams first met back in November, connected on a 3 from the right corner to knot the game at 44 with 3:12 remaining. On the Pirates next trip down the floor, Moore splashed home a trey from the top of the key, as Independence (10-12, 7-11) used a 9-0 run late to put the game away.
"When you give up 19 offensive rebounds, you're not going to win many games," Salazar said. "And we had a big problem with grabbing loose balls tonight."
Barefield scored 11 points to pace Garden City but had had just 2 points over the final three quarters and missed eight of her final nine attempts from the field. Lewis fouled out with nine points and 14 boards, and Jessica Carrillo chipped in nine points and seven rebounds.
Alston added nine for the Pirates, who ended a three-game losing streak to Garden City. Alex Akuen grabbed 13 boards and scored seven points off the bench.
Next up: Garden City at Dodge City-Saturday, Feb. 4-12:45 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and mobile app: KWKR