The University of Redlands women's basketball team captured a critical 64-61 victory over the University of La Verne on Saturday afternoon, moving up to fourth in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) standings with three games remaining. The Bulldogs led for much of the game but faced a four-point deficit with 7:31 left on the clock in the second half. With great poise and determination, freshman forward Reyna Ta'amu (Lakewood, CA) initiated a comeback by scoring 14 of her team-high 19 points in the waning minutes to propel the Maroon and Gray to victory.
The Bulldogs came out on fire, converting six of their first eight shots of the game to take a 14-8 lead with 14:41 remaining in the first half. Senior forward Victoria Fakalata (East Palo Alto, CA) accounted for eight of Redlands' points during this spurt, while senior guards Kameran Dage (Walnut Creek, CA) and Caitlin Ciardella (South San Francisco, CA) each knocked down a three-pointer.
However, less than two minutes later, the Leopards rallied back to tie it up at 14.
But the Maroon and Gray quickly responded with a 12-2 run to make it a 10-point game with 5:16 left in the half. Sophomore guard Jade Cheldelin (Portland, OR) chipped in four points, while freshman forward Allison Siksnus (Placentia, CA) nailed a shot from beyond the arc to cap off Redlands' quality stretch of scoring.
Once again, La Verne refused to go away, forcing an eventual tied tally at 27 by the end of the opening frame.
A back-and-forth battle ensued during the first 10 minutes of the second stanza, resulting in another knotted score at 41.
From here, the Leopards grew their largest lead to 45-41 over the next three minutes, before Ta'amu took over for the Bulldogs, as she scored 14 points in the final seven minutes to lead the Redlands offense. Cheldelin and sophomore forward Nina Newman (San Mateo, CA) backed her with quality points as well, resulting in the 64-61 Bulldog win.
Overall, the Bulldogs shot 41.4% from the field, as compared to La Verne's 35.5% effort. Redlands converted five of its three-pointers, while the Leopards only sank one.
Ta'amu finished with 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting while converting five of her eight chances at the stripe. She also hauled in seven rebounds, including five on the offensive end. Ciardella added 12 points, including three buckets from long range, while Cheldelin scored 10 points.
The Maroon and Gray also won the rebounding battle, 47-39, with senior guard Kaity Lykins (Simi Valley, CA) pulling in a game-high 14 boards.
With the win, Redlands (10-12, 7-6 SCIAC) moves up to fourth in the conference standings with hopes of qualifying for the SCIAC Postseason Tournament. The Bulldogs return home to Currier Gym for an important clash with Chapman University on Wednesday, February 18, at 7:30 p.m.