Jacob Thompson/Thompson Sports

Central Washington’s offense got off to a hot start and and never trailed while handing No. 5 Western Washington its first loss of the season Thursday night.

The Wildcats leaned heavily on their dynamic trio of Kizzah Maltezo, Samantha Bowman and Kassidy Malcolm to lead them to a 76-68 victory. Maltezo put up 18 of her 29 points in the first half as Central quickly opened up an 18-9 lead and scored 47 points before halftime.

Ellensburg graduate Kassidy Malcolm added 19 points while the GNAC’s top rebounder Samantha Bowman contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the season. The three Wildcats average more than 53 points combined and all rank among the league's top five individual scorers.

Central led by as much as 12 after Valerie Huerta made a pair of free throws less than three minutes into the second quarter. After hitting 19 of 34 field goals, including four of 10 threes, in the first half, the Wildcats cooled off considerably to finish 43.5% from the field.

They also held Western Washington to just 40.3% and forced 21 turnovers, just the second time the Vikings committed more than 20 this season. They rallied in the second half and nearly cut the lead to one with less than two minutes left, but Malcolm drew an offensive foul to nullify Carley Zaragoza's layup.

Maltezo responded by driving in for a layup and Central gave up just two points in the final three minutes as it pulled away for a fourth straight win. That leaves Alaska Anchorage as the only team still unbeaten in GNAC play.

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Neither CWU or WWU had played a game since Dec. 30 due to postponements related to COVID-19, and similar issues in Simon Fraser's program will keep the Wildcats from playing another road game orginialy scheduled for Saturday. That means the Wildcats (2-2 GNAC, 9-4) won't play again until at least next Thursday, when St. Martin's is expected to visit Nicholson Pavilion.

CENTRAL WASHINGTON — Kizzah Maltezo 29, Kassidy Malcolm 19, Samantha Bowman 12, Huerta 6, Maeda 4, Heitschmidt 4, Hagemeier 2, Troy 0.  27-62 17-25 76.

WESTERN WASHINGTON — Emma Duff 15, Mollie Olson 13, A. Dykstra 5, Walling 5, Fierke 1, Carley Zaragoza 13, R. Dykstra 8, Grandbois 5, Castaneda 3, Gimmaka 2, Reilly 0. 27-67 7-12 68.

Central Washington=26=21=14=15=—=76

Western Washington=16=21=14=17=—=68

3-point goals: CWU 5-19 (Maltezo 3-11, Malcolm 2-6), WWU 7-22 (Olson 2-7, Castaneda 1-1, R. Dykstra 1-2, Walling 1-3, Grandbois 1-3, Duff 1-5). Rebounds: CWU 36 (Bowman 11, Malcolm 6), WWU 42 (Duff 10). Assists: CWU 12 (Maeda 4), WWU 11 (Olson 5). Turnovers: CWU 16, WWU 21. Steals: CWU 7, WWU 4. Fouls: CWU 12, WWU 24. Fouled out—Zaragoza.

More game details are at

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