by Heather Morales
The rivalry goes deep. Both teams have fought hard to win each game. When they met earlier in the season, the Leopards lost to the Athenas, 62-57, in overtime. When they met Tuesday night, the women’s basketball team tried once again to defeat Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) but was unsuccessful, losing, 62-52.
The Athenas won the game after an intense second half that had each team fighting hard to take home the win.
La Verne took control of the ball early in the game and freshman guard Lori Johnson scored first for the Leopards in the first minute. Following was a shot by senior guard Kelly Perkins, bringing the score to 4-0.
Athena Tina Hetrick scored first for CMS. The scoring went back and forth between the two teams, but with 11:01 left in the first half, CMS was leading 20-15.
Three field goals by sophomore forward Jennifer Spring, Perkins and Johnson brought La Verne within two points with 8:05 left in the half, to make the score 23-21.
With 7:17 left, Spring brought the Leopards within one, 24-23 but at the end of the first half, La Verne was trailing the Athenas 36-29.
“I told them before the game that Claremont can’t control how hard they work,” said head coach Julie Kline. “Foul trouble early in the game definitely hurt us.”
The Leopards took control of the ball first but Hetrick was able to score for the Athenas. With 15:43 left in the game Spring scored again to make it 42-34 and the Leopards went on a six point run. Shot clock violations by the Athenas and the Leopard defense kept CMS from scoring for 8:32 and it allowed La Verne to come within four points, 44-40.
CMS extended its lead to 46-40 with 8:20 left in the game and La Verne answered by scoring another six points to tie the game 46-46 with 5:55 left in the half.
For two minutes, the score went back and forth with La Verne keeping it close and tying the Athenas.
Johnson hit two free throws to give the Leopards the lead for the first time since the beginning of the first half to make it 50-48.
The Athenas took the lead again with three minutes left in the game and would not allow La Verne to score until Spring scored again with 24 seconds left on the clock.
The final score was 62-52 and it puts La Verne in third place in SCIAC behind CMS and Pomona-Pitzer.
“We have to be thankful that we’re not ending the season this way,” said Kline.
Last Friday night, the Leopards traveled to Whittier to take on the Poets and won 70-44. La Verne was ahead at the half 31-21. Junior forward Alicia Gibson led the team with 23 points. Senior center Katie Miner had 12 points, five assists and three steals.
The Leopards play the Occidental Tigers Tuesday in Eagle Rock and will finish the regular season against Pomona-Pitzer at home Feb. 27.