The women’s basketball team kept the game close against the San Diego Christian Hawks Monday, but after an 18-0 run during the second half by the visitors, fell 80-64.
The more physical Hawks jumped to an early 8-3 lead to start the game before the Leopards got their bearings.
“We have a toughness issue,” head coach Matt Rogers said.
“We took shots when we were not in a good position, there was a lack of communication and believing in ourselves.”
La Verne is still dealing with injuries to junior Kayla Cribbs and sophomore Megan Musashi as well as sophomore Kelly Kika and senior Chantal Crouzet making their first appearances after injury and one or no practices.
The Leopards ran a new offense, which revolves around shooting a lot of three-pointers, and finished the evening shooting 9-53 from beyond the arc.
Defensively La Verne tried to keep constant pressure on the Hawks’ ball handlers by running a defense that relies on quickness and anticipation to create turnovers.
After allowing the Hawks to open a 12-5 lead the Leopards stormed back to take a 19-16 lead after a layup by freshman Brittni Tapia.
However the visitor’s playmakers, including standouts Brittany Daniel and Brittany Robinson, helped break the defense down until the easiest shot possible presented itself.
“We were mainly not rotating fast enough so they could throw it over us and get easy shots,” Kika said.
As a result of the high tempo play by the Leopards combined with the Hawks failing to score buckets, the Leopards faced a 36-34 deficit at halftime.
To open the second half the Hawks opened their lead to 49-38, completing the streak with on one of their own nine three-pointers.
La Verne erased their deficit to three, their smallest of the second half, after junior Tyne McClure finished her three-point opportunity at the free throw line that was set up by a nice drive and pass by junior Michelle Webb.
From that point on the Hawks took over on offense and defense, limiting the Leopards to 18 points for the last 12:29 of the game while scoring 31 of their own.
“It was us getting in our own way,” junior Amanda Copas said. “Either we were not taking the shot or not hitting the drive, we were careless with the ball.”
“When we hit a bad stretch we quit instead of keeping at it and not quitting,” Rogers said.
The Hawks did not allow the Leopards to have many second chance opportunities by grabbing 62 rebounds to La Verne’s 40.
“They say we are to live and die by the three in our offense,” Copas said. “It was a combination of us not making shots and not getting rebounds.”
According to Rogers the stat of the game was La Verne’s inability to get to the free throw line, something that they rely on heavily for success.
The Leopards were 0-1 from the line in the first half and 11-12 in the second.
“The only thing I want to see us get better in the next two days, before Wednesday’s game, is our conviction,” Rogers said. “Meaning buying in and committing and sticking to it (their game plan).”
The Leopards, led by freshman guard’s Riki Murakami 15 points, defeated La Sierra 78-76 on Wednesday.
La Verne shot with accuracy, draining 11 of 33 three-pointers and 17 of 29 free throws.
La Verne, who currently holds a 1-4 overall record, faces off against the Hawks again at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow in San Diego.
The Leopards return home to play Piedmont at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 19 and open Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 5 at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
Daniel Hargis can be reached at email@example.com.