by Cherryl F. Cercado
Trailing Claremont-Mudd-Scripps by half-a-game with three Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) games to play, the University of La Verne women’s basketball team saw its hopes of a conference title fade away with losses to Claremont, 76-64, on Friday and Whittier, 91-86, on Tuesday.
“We were outplayed,” said Head Coach Julie Kline of the Whittier game.
“Coach [Kline] stressed that they [Whittier] were a good team and we overlooked them,” said junior Katie Miner. “We were looking towards the playoffs and we didn’t play defense.”
Filled with loud and rambunctious spectators last Friday, Ducey Gymnasium at the Claremont Colleges, hosted the Leopards in an intense game. Starting with the tip-off, it was Claremont’s show for the first six minutes of the game. The Athenas kept scoring while the Leopards desperately tried to get control of the ball. By 15:43 the score was 10-0, Claremont.
But the game soon turned around for the Leopards. A smooth steal by junior Kelly Perkins, led to a three-point basket by senior Tiffany Hall, one of her six for the evening. Hall was the game’s high scorer for the Leopards with 24 points.
Moments later, just when it seemed that Claremont was on its way to extending its lead, Perkins again stole the ball and passed to Hall who made another three-point shot. At 13:43, the Leopards came alive and narrowed the score to 10-6. A rebound by freshman Jennifer Spring and a pass to Hall who connected in a three-pointer narrowed the gap with a 10-9 score. Soon, the Leopards were in the lead 11-10 after a steal and a score by Miner, who finished second with 19 points and led the team with 10 rebounds.
From then on, it was a close game between the two teams, with La Verne and Claremont volleying with the lead.
Claremont finally broke away with a six point lead when the scoreboard read 22-16. However, another three point shot by Hall, put the score at 22-19. La Verne kept narrowing the lead as they rebounded and as Claremont turned the ball over. With 4:45 left in the half, the score was 26-25, Claremont.
The last minutes of the first half were tense. As Claremont once again took a six point lead, 32-26, La Verne answered with another three-pointer by Hall, bringing the score to 32-29. But it was Claremont that held the halftime lead, 34-30.
When the buzzer sounded to mark the start of the second half, it was a battle of cat and mouse, with La Verne chasing Claremont. While the Athenas never gave up their lead, La Verne kept on their heels. A three-point basket by Perkins tied the game, 38-38, at 16:19.
It remained a close game throughout the contest. Although the Athenas were ahead of the Leopards by nine at one point, La Verne never quit, came back and once again narrowed the lead, 63-60 with 4:29 on the clock.
La Verne missed its opportunity to catch up when free throws didn’t fall for the team. The Leos were 7-16 from the line.
“If we would’ve rebounded a lot better, it would’ve been a different story,” said Kline. “We missed a lot of opportunities to keep it close.
La Verne closed its season last night against Occidental and will find out Sunday if they will receive a playoff bid.