by Scott Harvey
After two straight losses on Nov. 22 and 23 in the Trinity Tournament in San Antonio, Texas, to Wartburg College and Occidental, the University of La Verne’s women’s basketball team bounced back of late to win two games and dropped one to lower its record to below .500, at 2-3 overall.
The first win came in a big way last Tuesday, Dec. 2, against La Sierra as the Leopards disposed of an unprepared Golden Eagles team 76-30. The second came on Friday against Pacific Christian College in Fullerton, 67-56.
La Verne came out running in the first half as transfer junior Heather Johnson ran the floor for the Leopards and shot well, leading her team to 10-for-31 in field goal attempts in the half and banged seven out of 13 three point baskets in the game to give La Verne a 33-22 lead going into the second half.
Johnson continued her rally in the second half and often dished to junior forward Jennifer Spring, who cashed in for four out of 11 from the field in 38 minutes on the floor and finished with 13 points.
Sophomore forward Michelle Geiger also contributed late in the game putting in two out of eight attempts and a three pointer to finish with 11 points.
Geiger did have trouble defending her opponent as Pacific Christian’s center Adrie Penn combined with Kimberly Bento and went 10 of 19 for 21 points.
PCC also had the help of guard Jamie Curfman as she combined with Bento for 14 points in 34 minutes on the floor for the Regals. Bento finished the contest with a game-high seven assists.
As the second half ran down, the Leopards put the game away shooting 10-for-22 from the field and, with the help of Johnson’s five second half three-point baskets and 30 points on the way to defeating the Regals, 67-56.
“Heather really stepped up for us and has been a big impact on our team. She is fitting in great,” said assistant coach Katie Miner.
Last year’s leading scorer, sophomore forward Lori Johnson, finished 2-for-7 from the field and had four points in the Leopard win. Freshman forward Amy Perkins also contributed to the ULV victory with four points.
The Leopards traveled to Concordia University on Tuesday, where a strong Eagles team taught La Verne that it has a lot of work ahead of it this season as it lost the game, 81-56.
“The main difference in the Concordia game is that we got majorly out-rebounded,” said Miner. “Our philosophy is ‘Rebounds win games.’ In this game, we lost because of rebounds.”
La Verne did stay in the game with the help of junior point guard Heather Johnson and Lori Johnson as they combined for 17 points each and shot 11-for-27 from the field in the first half. Heather Johnson also shot two for five from three point land and had five assists. Spring also contributed for the Leopards with 12 points and five rebounds for ULV.
The Concordia team proved to be too much for the Leopards as the first half ran down and forward Angela Good knocked down seven out of 12 for 15 points and often combined with center Heather Carll who had 13 points and nine rebounds in the winning effort.
La Verne is still fighting through injuries in the 1997-98 season as senior guard Alicia Gibson could only play 15 minutes in the Pacific Christian game and was only able to cash in for two points and a steal. The Leopards look to both Heather and Lori Johnson for leadership and guidance early in the season.
La Verne will travel to El Cajon tonight to face Christian Heritage College at 7:30 p.m. and will be diligently preparing for a tough challenge in the UC San Diego Tournament Dec. 28-30.
“UCSD will be a good test for our team stamina and mental toughness,” said Miner.
According to head coach Julie Kline and Miner, the coaching staff is preparing for the UCSD Tournament with anticipation.
“From a coaching standpoint, we are getting ready for the tournament,” said Miner.