The women’s basketball team dominated the boards, leading to a strong 90-75 win against Antelope Valley on Friday night at Frantz Athletic Court.
The Leopards out rebounded the Pioneers 58-46 on their way to the victory and senior guard Jazzlyn Johnson said the Leopards’ endurance is what helped them outwork their opponent.
“We ran a lot in practice and our endurance helped us when UAV got tired,” Johnson said. “We were able to get into them and steal some rebounds.”
Johnson got the scoring started early, getting her driving layup to fall and picked up the foul to put the Leopards up 11-6 over the Pioneers in the first quarter.
“It was part of our game plan, our coaches wanted me to get to the paint and break down the defense,” Johnson said.
A back-and-forth struggle ensued as the lead changed twice in the second half of the quarter. In the final minute of the quarter, senior guard Mariah Lora made her mid range shot to bring the Leopards within two. Freshman guard Naomi Jackson would then pick off Antelope Valley senior point guard Tanika Stephenson for the steal and Jackson finished her breakaway opportunity to tie the score, 23-23, at the end of the first quarter.
Junior forward Casey Kuramoto caught fire in the second quarter providing three three-point shots off the bench for the Leopards. The boost off of the bench was coupled with two three-point shots from senior guard Jaelynn Curley and a seven-point quarter from Johnson.
“Our guards do a great job finding us on the perimeter. We focus on our strengths as a team and when we put it all together we mesh and we make it work,” Curley said.
The Leopards got five offensive rebounds in the quarter which kept many drives alive, helping the Leopards to a 47-43 lead at the end of the first half.
The Pioneers made 16 points off turnovers in the first half and they came out with more turnovers and breakaway points in the third quarter.
With 4:39 left in the third quarter, the Leopards led the Pioneers, 56-53.
The Pioneers penetrated the paint and finished their drive to tie the game at 58 a short time later. The Leopards missed their third three-pointer in a row and their shooting went cold.
“At the half they switched from the zone defense they were running in the first half to a man defense in the second so we were forced to drive more into the paint,” Curley said.
After a short run for both teams, Johnson ended the quarter with a driving dribble of her own finishing the layup and giving the Leopards a 65-60 lead.
In the fourth, the Leopards began to pull away from the Pioneers, outscoring them, 25-15, highlighted by back-to-back stops to lead to two fastbreak buckets to put the Leopards up, 74-60 halfway through the quarter.
UAV used an 8-0 run to pull closer to the Leopards, closing the gap to 84-72. However, it was not enough as Curley hit the essential game-ending three pointer which took out all the wind in the Pioneers’ sails.
“We didn’t want to have the team stick around in the end, so we knew we needed to get a bigger lead to put them down,” freshman guard Melissa Howell said.
The Leopards came out on top in the first game of back-to-back game nights during Thanksgiving break. The Leopards would go on to beat Bethesda, 99-49.
The Leopards opened Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play Wednesday night at home with a tough 70-68 loss to Pomona-Pitzer.
The team is 3-2 overall and 0-1 in SCIAC play.
La Verne’s next opponent will be Occidental, who the Leopards will host at 4 p.m. Saturday at Frantz Athletic Court.
Jacob Barriga can be reached at email@example.com.