Heartbreaker closes cagers’ season

Facing a hostile crowd during an extremely intense game, ULV's Aundraya Ross looks to her left to check who is open during a critical play while Claremont's Darcy Burton stands guard. / photo by Annette Gutierrez
Facing a hostile crowd during an extremely intense game, ULV’s Aundraya Ross looks to her left to check who is open during a critical play while Claremont’s Darcy Burton stands guard. / photo by Annette Gutierrez

by Rob Strauss
Staff Writer

The Leopards looked to have the NCAA Division III playoff game wrapped up, leading by five points with 47 seconds left, when a technical foul was called on junior Kelly Perkins.

“Kelly said something to the coach and the referee thought she was talking about them,” said senior Leslee Rogers, who was the leading scorer with 27 points for the game.

“It was a really weak call,” said senior Tiffany Hall. “She used no profanity.”

It was the turning point for the University of La Verne women’s basketball team’s heartbreaking loss, in its first-ever playoff game, 62-61, to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

The Leopards were the first to score, with Rogers making a nice move to the inside for the lay-up.

Missed shots by the Leos and three-pointers from the Athenas contributed to CMS taking a 13-point lead in the first half. The Athenas made five three-pointers in the first half, three from Tiphanie Phillips and two from Tina Hetrick.

Rogers’ three-pointer with two seconds left in the half helped to pull La Verne within eight by halftime, 34-26.
Rogers had 18 points at the half and Phillips led the Athenas with nine. Junior Katie Miner had seven rebounds.

“Some of the shots didn’t fall,” said Hall.

The Leopards shot for 32 percent in the first half.

Claremont started the second half shooting poorly, which enabled the Leos to catch up. A Rogers three-pointer tied the game, 38-38 with 14:12 remaining. A bucket by sophomore Laura Czingula on the next possession gave the Leopards a two point lead. Claremont regained the lead a couple seconds later with a three pointer by Phillips.

The Leopards took the lead again when Perkins was fouled by Dianna Turner with 7:01 left in the game. Perkins made both free throws to make the score 50-49 for the Leopards. Then Perkins fouled Colleen Tribby and the Athenas took the lead, 51-50, off of foul shots.

Rogers helped the Leopards get the lead back on foul shots.

With 47 seconds left in the game, the technical was called on Perkins and Tribby made four foul shots to bring the Athenas to within one, 61-60.

The Athenas got the ball and a shot by center Mindy Bagatelos made the score 62-61. Miner then missed a shot and the Athenas got the rebound. La Verne had a final chance but the shots did not fall.

On the last offensive series, a collision occurred, sending Perkins into the wall.

“She was thrown down and hit her head against the wall,” said Julie Kline, head coach.

In the face of the loss, the Leopards still feel proud about what they have accomplished this season.

“We made history at La Verne,” said Kline. “This is the first time La Verne has gone to the playoffs.”

Though upset about the technical, they don’t feel that it was what decided the game and did not feel Perkins was at fault.

“That call didn’t decide the game,” said Hall. “I think it’s disappointing. We were five points up and had the momentum.”

“Kelly played the best game she played all year,” said Miner.

Hall feels that it was how they played earlier in the game that caused the loss.

“It doesn’t come down to the last shot,” said Hall. “We missed a lot of the shots in the first half.”

“We played hard,” said Rogers. “You can’t take that away.”

Rogers finished the season as the leading scorer with an average of 21.6 points. Miner was second on the team with an average of 14.3 points.

Rogers was second in Division III in three pointers made per game. Rogers had an average of four per game. Rogers also had the second highest number of points in one game shooting 52 points against La Sierra on January 16.

Miner was 24th in Division III in rebounding with an average of 11.8.

Rob Strauss
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Annette Gutierrez
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