Despite a late surge in the fourth quarter the women’s basketball team fell to the Redlands Bulldogs, 73-67, after a lackluster first half at the Frantz Athletic Court.
With the loss, the Leopards drop their five-game winning streak and fall to 5-2 overall and 1-1 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“We could have performed better, the effort was there, but we made too many fundamental mistakes,” said head coach Jason Pruitt. “You can’t dig yourself into a hole and expect to come out every time – keep playing with fire and you will get burned.”
Both teams came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, with Redlands eventually gaining the upper hand 17-14 to end the first quarter.
La Verne was slow on defense to open the second quarter, eventually falling farther and farther behind. Despite this, junior shooting guard Dejanee Gill kept the offense going in her debut for the Leopards, finishing the night with 16 points, six rebounds, along with an assist and steal.
Senior forward Destinee Garcia also added onto her team-leading 16 steals.
However the Leopard defense unable to keep the Bulldogs off the board, falling behind to a 59-42 deficit by the end of the third quarter.
“I think we just came out to a slow start and weren’t communicating on defense, but once we started to communicate and be aggressive on defense, that’s when we started to pick it back up, but we were already in a hole at that point,” Gill said.
Up to this point it had been an unusually quiet night for sophomore point guard Jazzlyn Johnson and junior guard Jasmine Xiong. But the guard duo came alive in the fourth quarter, with Johnson amassing nine points while Xiong hit a clutch 3-pointer that brought the Leopards within striking distance at 59-52.
But still unable to slow down the Bulldog offense, there was not enough in the tank for the Leopards to take the game, losing 73-67 after a hard fought final quarter.
“We wait for them to hit us when we should hit them first,” Xiong said. “We should know better and we just have to execute,”
In spite of the loss, players remain confident that they can carry their momentum from their strong performances earlier in the season.
“We’re getting there, as more of our players come back from injuries, I believe we’re going to be great,” Johnson said.
The Leopards have a busy month ahead of them, taking on Bethesda at home at 7 p.m. Tuesday before traveling to play at Fresno State on Thursday and at San Jose State on Dec. 14.
Joey Matsuzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.