HANFORD — Taylor Whitfield scored a team-high 20 points and Jaslin Legarreta added 15 points off the bench, but Hanford West came up short in their second home game of the season, 64-51, to Washington Union on Monday.
The Huskies trailed 46-43 heading into the fourth quarter, but defensive woes allowed dribble penetration by the Panthers, which led to plenty of attempts at the free-throw line. Washington Union guard Cierra Dean was a problem all night long as she carved up the defense in the paint and finished with a game-high 28 points.
“We lost focus, we started turning the ball over and, our defense, we were not closing gaps,” Hanford West coach Torreya Edwards said. “We were stepping over too late or watching the game and allowing [Dean] to make those crucial last-minute layups. Our defense kind of collapsed.”
The Huskies (2-5) started to unravel on offense themselves as they seemed to be unable to hang on to the ball. Then when the Huskies got to the line, they struggled to convert as they have previously.
“We just got to finish it,” Edwards said. “It’s a free throw.”
They were 11-for-31 from the charity stripe on Monday, including shooting 1-for-9 in the fourth quarter. It’s the third time this season the Huskies have missed 20 or more free throws in a game.
“It does affect us a lot when we aren’t able to make our free throws” Hanford West guard Kolbi Adams said. “That’s a big factor when we can’t win.”
A’Khalia Turner’s putback made it a 49-47 game, but the Huskies couldn’t sustain any offense the rest of the way. The Panthers went on a 15-4 run to end the game and outscored the Huskies 18-8 in the fourth quarter.
“I feel like we were getting too antsy and we started going crazy trying to rush everything,” Legarreta said.
The Huskies (2-5) got off to a slow start falling behind 8-2 before Legarreta’s layup tied the game 9-9. Coming off a foot injury from last week, the sophomore guard sparked the Huskies’ offense with eight first-quarter points.
“I was just trying to keep my head strong coming back from an injury,” Legarreta said. “I was trying to do my best to prove that I can get through it.”
Legarreta converted a layup and free throw to give the Huskies their first lead of the game. She then hit a 3-pointer on the next possession, but the Panthers tied it up 18-18 at the end of the first quarter. Legarreta scored 13 of her 15 points in the first half.
The Huskies started the second quarter on a 6-0 run with a 3-pointer from Whitfield. The Huskies led 30-23 when the Panthers went on their own 6-0 run to make it a one-point game. Whitfield’s second of four 3-pointers on the night made it 33-29 at halftime.
“We were penetrating a lot and our 3s were falling,” Adams, who finished with three points, said.
Whitfield continued her offensive presence in the second half as she scored nine of the team’s 10 third-quarter points. Hanford West led for the majority of the quarter until Washington Union used an 8-0 run, bookended by 3-pointers, to take a 46-41 lead. They never trailed again after that run.
“I’m looking forward to building and becoming a better all-around team and be ready for conference and playoffs,” Edwards said.
Hanford West has another home game on Wednesday against Tulare Union (6-0) slated for 6:30 p.m. The Huskies faced them last season and lost 68-44.