The Peninsula Pirate women matched division-leading Whatcom shot-for-shot for about 33 minutes on Monday night.
But eventually Peninsula could not overcome the effects of the game’s opening seven minutes, during which the Orcas scored 16 unanswered points.
The Pirates (1-4 in division, 4-10 overall) dropped a 69-47 decision to the Orcas (4-0 in division, 8-6 overall) in an NWAACC North Division game.
“We got plenty of open shots; they just weren’t falling,” said Peninsula coach Alison Crumb.
The Pirates shot 21 percent from the field in the opening stanza and quickly were dismissed by the Orcas each time they started to rally.
After Ashley Honeycutt’s basket gave Whatcom a 24-4 lead with 8:26 to play in the first half, Danika Goodwin keyed a Peninsula attempt to get back in the game.
Over the last seven-plus minutes of the first period, the Pirates went on a 12-9 run, punctuated by six points from Goodwin.
The Orcas pulled out to a 39-18 led shortly into the second half, but Jasmine Jackson’s three-point shot with 15:04 to play touched off Peninsula’s response. Ardis Pullen and Megan Smith added buckets in the next minute and a half, inching the Pirates closer to Whatcom at 41-25 with 13:19 remaining.
On the Orcas’ ensuing possession, however, Alicia Valentine drove uncontested to the hoop, laying the ball in and setting off a 15-6 run over the next five minutes that would put the game out of Peninsula’s reach.
“They killed us down low, and we put them on the free-throw line,” said Crumb.
Goodwin led the Pirates with 11 points while collecting six rebounds and distributing five assists. Smith added eight buckets, five boards and three steals.
Honeycutt paced Whatcom with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Valentine netted 17 points and nabbed seven steals.
Peninsula will face the Edmonds Tritons (1-3 in division, 5-7 overall) at 5 p.m. today, Jan. 19, in Port Angeles.
The Pirates will have the opportunity to do something that they largely failed to do so far this season — play a complete game from start to finish.
If they can do that, Crumb believes they will surprise people.
“I feel like as a unit of five on the floor, we haven’t hit our potential yet,” said Crumb. “If we can find a way to make shots and get stops on the defensive end, we are going to be a fun team to watch because we have potential.”
The Pirates are just short of putting together a complete game — smart shot-selection, disciplined defense, careful passing.
On Monday night, the Pirates had short bursts where they looked like a team firing all on cylinders. On some occasions they passed the ball until they found the open shot and they stifled Whatcom with stingy defense, but Peninsula failed to maintain that intensity for the entire game.
Reach Ryan Hueter at email@example.com.