The women’s basketball team lost to Caltech in their final game of the season on Saturday at Frantz Athletic Court, 97-74.
La Verne honored the two seniors on the team, forward Kayla Chism and guard Kristi Sakamoto, who were playing their final game.
“It meant a lot to me that both Kayla and Kristi came out of retirement and came back to play,” head coach Jason Pruitt said. “Both of them were not playing the year before. I’m forever grateful for them taking the time out of their schedule and come back to play for a year.”
Caltech’s team came in to the game with confidence.
“I’m really excited. I mean, it’s our last game and there’s a lot on the line, but I think we’re going to do well,” Caltech sophomore forward Alexa Lauinger said. “I’m confident about it.”
At the beginning of the first quarter, the Leopards came out strong on offense, immediately putting pressure on Caltech. The Leopards also forced the Beavers into some early turnovers.
With seven minutes left in the quarter, the score was tied at 6-6 until the Leopards broke the tie with a layup from junior guard Clarissa Perez.
Both team were running and getting a lot of shots up, but neither team was particularly efficient to start. After a three-point shot by junior guard Bailey Kurahashi made it 11-8, Caltech called a timeout.
After the timeout Caltech came out and went on a 10-0 run and overtook the lead from the Leopards by making free throws and layups.
La Verne went cold and could not make a basket until Chism made a layup, stopping a three-minute drought. The first quarter ended with both teams getting hot and trading baskets, the quarter ended with the Leopards trailing 27-22.
Throughout the second quarter, La Verne began to fall behind because Caltech’s defensive pressure.
The Beavers were able to force the Leopards into multiple turnovers.
Caltech had great ball movement which provided them with easy layup opportunities and great shots that they made.
La Verne continued to play hard even though they were down. The second quarter ended with Caltech leading La Verne, 50-40.
“Going into the last game was just really emotional because it’s our senior night. It’s been four long years, but our team did a really good job at just letting us know how loved we are,” Chism said. “We wanted to win, but unfortunately we couldn’t do it, but we just tried to play well and leave it all on the court for the last time.”
After halftime, Caltech stretched their lead to 64-53 with four minutes to go in the third quarter.
La Verne was able to make shots but turnovers and Caltech’s offensive success pushed the lead to nearly 20 before the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was much of the same as Caltech was getting easy shots and making them. La Verne fought, but could not overcome the lead the Beavers built.
On the season, La Verne finishes with a record of 3-13 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play, and 5-20 overall. The Leopards finished in an eighth place tie with Caltech.
This is an improvement from last season and the team is very young and promising when looking to next season and beyond.
Even with the loss Saturday, it was a memorable night for the seniors that are leaving and heading toward future endeavors.
“It was a bittersweet feeling knowing that it was our last game ever and it’s really sad, but our teammates did a great job and they were always there for us throughout this whole season and they made us feel very loved for senior night,” Sakamoto said. “I wish them the best of luck for next season.”
Hailey Helms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.