The women’s basketball team had a rough home loss, 64-61, against the Redlands Bulldogs on senior night Saturday at Frantz Athletic Court.
The Leopards fought back, hoping to keep a dominating lead, but fell short.
“We have two more games left,” senior guard Riki Murakami said.
“We’re still not in the playoffs, so we just got to keep doing what we have to do and hope other teams do what we need them to do,” she said.
A ceremony was held before the game to applaud the seniors, guard Tiffany Hicks, Murakami and forward J.J. Weaver.
“It’s my last home game,” Hicks said.
“Kind of emotional that we didn’t walk away with a W,” she said.
The ceremony also recognized junior guard Jasmine Bush, who is also leaving the team with the seniors this year after multiple injuries.
The Bulldogs started strong with long-range shots.
With 5:16 left in the first half, Redlands had a 10-point lead, 26-16, but La Verne quickly recovered and scored the next 11 points turning the game into Leopards first lead, 27-26, with 1:01 left before halftime.
“We prefer to not have it close,” assistant coach Kristin De Simone said.
“We like having a nice cushion but Redlands came to play. We were expecting them to come and play hard, and they did,” she said.
The game was close for the entire second half.
With 14:38 on the clock, La Verne had its first lead of the second half.
Junior guard Kayla Valentine made a layup, giving the Leopards a one point lead, 35-34 over the Bulldogs.
The last minute of the game was crucial. Redlands was leading, 62-56, but Hicks hit a jump shot with 38 seconds to play, making it a four-point deficit.
Senior guard Caitlin Ciardella of the Bulldogs was then fouled by Hicks and made one free throw, extending their lead, 63-58.
Hicks got back and made a three-pointer to make it a two-point deficit.
“When it comes down to last second opportunities, and its rough when you don’t hit those big shots,” De Simone said.
Hicks managed to get possession of the ball once again and attempted a three-pointer to tie the game with 10 seconds left.
Murakami then took the offensive rebound after Hicks shot bounced off the rim and passed the ball back to Hicks.
Hicks attempted another three-pointer with two seconds left, but the ball once again did not go in, as Redlands walked away with the win.
“If it comes down to it, we didn’t give up to the last horn went off,” Hicks said.
“It is pretty much anybody’s game throughout the whole game,” she said.
La Verne junior center Emily Myers lead the team with a team-high of 28 points.
Murakami handed out five assists to the team, but it was not enough to win the game.
“Not the outcome we wanted but I think our team played really hard all the way to the end, so I’m really proud of us,” Murakami said.
Murakami was also named a candidate for the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s 13 annual “So You Want To Be A Coach” program Wednesday.
The objectives of the program are to increase the understanding and application of skills necessary to secure coaching positions in women’s basketball and increase the understanding and awareness of competencies necessary for success in coaching.
The Leopards also faced the Caltech Beavers Wednesday at Braun Athletic Center and lost, 59-58.
This loss gives Caltech their first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win since the 2009-10 season.
La Verne had a 10-point lead, 42-32, early in the second half.
Hicks hit a jump shot with 16 seconds remaining in the game, putting La Verne in the lead by two.
Caltech sophomore guard Stephanie Wong answered right back, draining in a three-pointer with nine seconds left.
The Leopards had the last possession of the game but were unable to get a shot up in time and fell short.
Valentine finished with 15 points and junior guard Shannon Irwin followed with 12.
The Leopards are now in fifth place of the SCIAC with a 7-8 record and 10-14 overall on the season.
The team will face the Chapman Panthers Saturday for its last game of the season at 2 p.m. at Harold Hutton Sports Center.