WALLA WALLA - There are nights when you just have to figure out a way to win.
Wa-Hi did not do much right here Saturday night in non-conference girls basketball action against Southridge.
The Suns' full-court, 32-minute press bothered the Blue Devils, Wa-Hi hit only 10-of-27 free throws, and made 13-of 34 shots from the floor, but at the end of the night, the Blue Devils escaped with a 39-37 win.
"It's better to have an ugly win than a pretty loss," Wa-Hi coach Jill Meliah said. "I'll take that. Our guards are young and we're going to make mistakes (against the press), and we're going to learn. We finally settled down a little bit in the fourth quarter and started breaking their press, looking to attack, and making better decisions."
The Suns went to intermission up 19-17 and neither team scored in the first 4:54 of the third quarter.
Gabby Anderson's putback got Wa-Hi even at 19-19. Jami Klicker answered the Suns' Meghan Sorensen's trey with her third 3 of the game, and Anderson's putback with 47 seconds left got the Blue Devils even at 24-24 heading to the fourth quarter.
Anderson, off an Andrea Hamada feed, gave Wa-Hi its first lead at 26-24 - since the 7:32 mark of the second period - with 7:40 left in the game.
A 5-0 Suns run broke a 29-29 tie and following a putback by Lauren Mickelsen, the Suns led 34-29 with 5:05 left.
The Blue Devils responded behind 3-of-4 free throws from Torri Crawford and a putback from Sydney Christensen to draw even at 34-34 with 3:36 left.
Anderson grabbed defensive rebounds on the next two Suns' possessions and drew a foul to go to the line with the score tied at 34 with 2:45 to play.
Wa-Hi was a combined 8-for-19 as Anderson toed the line.
"Last night (an overtime loss at Hanford), I did not do well from the free throw line," Anderson said. "Tonight, I was trying to be more positive. I just thought to myself, ‘Go with the pressure and put that on your back and do it for your team'. And they went down."
Anderson drained both free throws for a 36-34 lead.
Allie Greene hit 1-of-2 free throws with 1:56 to play, and Libbie Jimenez scored her only bucket of the night with 1:26 left for a 39-34 Blue Devil lead.
A 3-point play from the Suns' Emma Sanders, a Blue Devil turnover, and Sanders had a look for the win from the far corner, but Wa-Hi ran at her and the shot glanced off the side of the board and the clock expired.
"We calmed down in the press break and made better passes," Anderson said of the deciding period. "We started running plays and every time we ran a play, we were able to score."
Klicker, with two first-half treys, scored eight of her game-high 11 points in the first half to keep Wa-Hi close after 24 minutes.
Anderson finished with nine points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
"They (the Suns) were pretty tough (underneath)," Anderson said of her rebounding efforts. "I tried to throw my elbows around, but it was a struggle. They were pretty aggressive and out to get the ball."
Crawford chipped in eight points and grabbed 11 boards.
"We have good posts," Meliah said. "Torri (Crawford) had some good rebounds and Gabby (Anderson) is attacking and going and getting rebounds."
The Blue Devils improve to 3-1 and host Pendleton Tuesday in their final non-conference tuneup before opening league at Richland Friday.
The Blue Devils know they need to learn and grow from the weekend to prepare for the Bombers and the league opener.
"We need to get more aggressive and block out," Anderson said. "Other teams have been really aggressive on the offensive boards, and we need to do the same thing, And obviously free throws are a big thing, We missed 17 points from the free throw line."
"This week end truly tested us," Meliah concluded. "We need to figure out who we are as a team. We're going to be able to learn some good things from it (the weekend). We've got to get better."
Wa-Hi 39, Southridge 37
SOUTHRIDGE (37) - M. Sorensen 4-9 0-0 9, Lyons 0-5 0-0 0, Sanders 3-15 1-1 8, Mickelson 3-10 1-2 9, P. Sorensen 1-4 0-2 2, Ratchford 1-3 1-2 4, Bauman 0-1 -0 0, Stein 2-8 0-2 5. Totals 14-55 3-9 37.
WA-HI (39) - Klicker 4-8 0-3 11, Crawford 1-3 6-12 8, Jimenez 1-7 0-1 2, Christensen 2-4 0-0 4, Greene 1-4 1-3 3, Hamada 1-4 0-4 2, Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Anderson 3-4 3-4 9. Totals 13-34 10-27 39.
Southridge 8 11 5 13 - 37
Wa-Hi 7 10 7 15 - 39
3-point goals - SR 6-19 (M. Sorensen 1-4, Sanders 1-5, Mickelsen 2-5, P. Sorensen 1-2, Stein 1-3), Wa-Hi 3-8 (Klicker 3-4, Jimenez 0-3, Hamada 0-1). Total fouls- SR 25, Wa-Hi 11. Fouled out-SR (M. Sorensen, P. Sorensen). Technical fouls-none. Rebounds- SR 22 (Stein 7), Wa-Hi 47 (Anderson 13). Turnovers- SR 14, Wa-Hi 15. Assists- SR 4 (Sorensen 2), Wa-Hi 5 (Greene 2, Hamada 2).