Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs gave Moffat County all it could handle Thursday night but came up just short at the end, dropping a hard-fought 47-41 home game.
The Sailors, who fell to 8-6 and 4-4 on the season, watched a three-point lead vanish in the final minutes.
Katie Carter put the Sailors on top 38-35 on a layup, but the Bulldogs fought back to tie the score.
Emily Mortensen, who shot 4-19 from the floor, made the biggest shot of the evening when she nailed a 3-pointer that gave the Bulldogs a 41-38 lead with 2:10 remaining.
Amber Sanchez and Laurel Mortensen made ensuing baskets for the Bulldogs that extended the lead to 45-38.
It was a defensive battle from the get-go, with the Bulldogs forcing the Sailors into committing 22 turnovers in the first half. Moffat County had 11 turnovers at that point.
Carter, who finished on 6-8 shooting, led the Sailors with 12 points.
Jannike Combs and Natalie Muth scored six points apiece for the Sailors.
Muth, who played with a sore rib, sat for a significant duration of the game. When Muth came off the bench early in the fourth quarter, she scored four quick points that brought her team to within 34-33.
Emily Hines then made a jumper in the lane that gave Steamboat the go-ahead score at about the 5:00-mark.
The Sailors got off to a slow start and were immediately caught off guard by the play of Bulldogs' forward Krystal Voorhees, who scored eight first-quarter points. But they battled back late in the period after falling behind 8-0.
Moffat County led 10-7 after the first quarter.
Steamboat took a 21-18 lead after a bucket by Jennifer Weber and headed into the locker room with a 21-20 advantage.
"We played a whole lot better tonight than we played in Palisade a week ago," Steamboat coach Bruce Alston said. "Our goal wasn't to lose, but we played a whole lot better.
"We were a little short-handed tonight."
The Sailors were without their leading scorer Brienna Combs, who could not play because of a shoulder injury. Two other Sailors were ill, which affected the normal substitution rotation Steamboat likes to use, Alston said.
Anya Allen, who finished with four points, said the Sailors showed improvement since the Palisade loss in Grand Junction Jan. 27.
"I think at the end we could have played harder," Allen said. "We let it slip away, but overall we did a very good job of putting the pressure on them."
The Bulldogs, who are tied for first in the league with the Rifle Bears, are now 13-2 and 7-1.
Laurel Mortensen led the Bulldogs with 15 points.
Combs had six steals and Carter grabbed 13 rebounds. Ashley Rogers crashed the boards hard, too, ending with 11 rebounds.
"It was a close game," Carter said. "This tells us that we improved a lot since the beginning of the season.
"I think we played right up to the end with them, and with (Brienna Combs) being gone, we did a pretty good job."
The Sailors are at home again Saturday when they take on the Battle Mountain Huskies at 6 p.m.
In other action Thursday, the Sailors junior varsity fell 44-32 to the Bulldogs. Shelley Dunlop scored 10 points for Steamboat.