2011-12 Summary: Bulldog Women's Basketball Makes Big Strides in Successful Season
After a tough start to the 2011-12 campaign, the University of Redlands women's basketball program quickly turned it around to register an impressive 19-8 overall mark, which tied for the second-most wins in Head Coach Rich Murphy's five-year tenure. This complemented the squad's second-place finish in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) at 12-2. Falling just short of making their second-ever NCAA tournament appearance, the Bulldogs left their mark on school history as they faced tough opposition, set new records, and collected remarkable awards.
After a tough three-game home skid to open the season, the Maroon and Gray found comfort on the road in early December when it traveled to the UC Santa Cruz Tournament. Redlands claimed its first win of the campaign in a 76-67 performance over Menlo College that saw sophomore forward Brittany Oster (Agoura Hills, CA) go 8-for-12 from the field for 21 points.
Senior guard Mariah Barbetti-Cort (Ventura, CA) led the charge for the Bulldogs in the second game of the tournament as the squad took down regional rival UC Santa Cruz, 74-64. She notched a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end. Creating a three-headed scoring threat, Oster and senior forward Courtney Carroll (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA) joined Barbetti-Cort with solid performances at 16 and 14 points, respectively. An impressive 90.9% showing at the free-throw line assisted the Bulldogs in securing the win as the Banana Slugs went a meager 60.0% from the charity stripe.
Days later, Redlands returned to Southern California to take on another regional foe in Chapman University. After falling behind by 10 late in the first half, the Bulldogs fought back and took a one-point lead with 13:42 remaining in the second period when freshman guard Kaity Lykins (Simi Valley, CA) scored two of her team-leading 16 points. Junior guard Ashley Sevilla (San Diego, CA) came up clutch late in the game by hitting consecutive three-pointers to tie the game at 62 and again at 65. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, their luck ran out as they fell to Chapman in heartbreaking fashion, 69-71.
With determination and dedication, the Bulldogs stayed the course by knocking off La Sierra University by building upon a 16-point halftime lead en route to a 71-47 triumph. Adding to her already illustrious career, Barbetti-Cort made Redlands history with her first triple-double by tallying 11 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists against the Golden Eagles.
This inspired the Bulldogs to rattle off three consecutive victories, including two in the Redlands Winter Classic against Edgewood College (WI) and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. In addition, the Maroon and Gray came out on top against Concordia University – Irvine on December 20.
Following a second heartbreaking loss to Chapman, Redlands rebounded to earn six consecutive wins through the opening round of conference competition. The first three contests saw the Maroon and Gray defeat Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, Whittier College, and the University of La Verne by a combined 52 points.
The Bulldogs also recorded an important win against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on January 14. Despite a three-point deficit at halftime, Redlands outscored the Athenas by a margin of 42-21 in the second half to roll to a comfortable 60-42 victory.
After posting wins over Cal Lutheran University and Caltech, the Bulldogs faced off against the Tigers of Occidental College in a battle for first place in the SCIAC. Sophomore guard Marika Staton (El Centro, CA) helped Redlands overcome a first-half deficit by knocking down a three-pointer less than two minutes into the second period to make it 34-33 in favor of the Bulldogs. The back-and-forth contest continued through the very final ticks of the clock as the teams endured a total of 11 lead-changes and eight tied scores. After the Tigers gained a three-point edge with 13 seconds to go in the game, Staton had a chance to tie it up with a final look from beyond the arc, but it rimmed out at the buzzer, resulting in the Tigers' important 61-58 victory to move into a tie for first place.
Nonetheless, the Maroon and Gray quickly recovered as Carroll's triple-double led the team to an 83-68 victory over La Verne just two days later. Freshman guard Caitlin Ciardella (South San Francisco, CA) also chipped in with six points in one of her stronger showings off the bench to help the Bulldogs to defeat the Leopards.
Subsequent to firing off 10 three-pointers in a win against Whittier College and sweeping the season series with the Sagehens of Pomona-Pitzer, Redlands was once again in position to claim sole possession of first-place when it faced off against Occidental on February 9. On "Breast Cancer Awareness Night" in Currier Gymnasium, the Maroon and Gray took a two-point lead into the half only to see it slip away in the second stanza, resulting in a tough 48-59 defeat to the Tigers. Sophomore forward Victoria Fakalata (East Palo Alto, CA) put in a solid performance with 10 points for the Bulldogs. The loss dropped Redlands into second place with only three conference games remaining in the regular season.
On Senior Night, Barbetti-Cort scored her 1,000th career point to lead the Bulldogs to an easy 70-35 victory over Caltech. She joined Carroll in this illustrious group of point-scorers, becoming the seventh Redlands player to accomplish this impressive feat.
After finishing the regular season with a trio of wins, the Maroon and Gray entered the SCIAC Postseason Tournament as the No. 2 seed and hosted the Athenas of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. A solid team effort proved to be the difference as the Bulldogs advanced to the SCIAC Postseason Tournament against Cal Lutheran, which had pulled out a last-minute upset against Occidental in the other semifinal.
With the automatic berth to the NCAA tournament on the line, the Bulldogs ran into a red-hot Regals squad that jumped out to a five-point lead at halftime. Unfortunately for Redlands, this advantage held up as Cal Lutheran prevailed in a 61-58 decision in Currier Gym on February 25.
Headlining the Bulldogs' individual accolades, Carroll collected D3hoops.com All-West Region Third-Team honors. While averaging 13.0 points per game, she also added 7.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per contest en route to one of the most successful careers in the program's history. She currently ranks third all-time with 1,437 points and 755 rebounds. On top of that, Carroll owns the school record in blocked shots as she swatted 128 in her four years while donning the Maroon and Gray.
In addition to her All-Region laurels, Carroll was selected to the First Team All-SCIAC, marking her fourth All-SCIAC honor in as many years. She showed that she was just as successful in the classroom as she was selected to the COSIDA Academic All-District First Team.
Barbetti-Cort joined Carroll on the All-SCIAC First Team, also tallying her fourth All-Conference accolade in her tenure. On the season, she averaged 8.9 points per game in addition to grabbing 8.3 rebounds per contest. Barbetti-Cort now ranks second all-time in two categories in Bulldog history, notching 374 assists and 807 rebounds, while ranking sixth all time with 1,034 points scored over her four years.
With the graduation of two fantastic players in Carroll and Barbetti-Cort, the Bulldogs face the challenges of filling the voids in production as well as leadership. However, with 11 players returning from this year's talented squad, the women's basketball team strives to battle for the SCIAC title once again in the coming season. With Head Coach Rich Murphy providing guidance and wisdom to his squad, the Bulldogs sit in great position to have another successful campaign with hopes of a return trip to the NCAA tournament.