The fourth-seeded University of Redlands women's basketball team traveled to Claremont on Thursday evening to battle it out with the top-seeded Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges Athenas in the semifinal match-up of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Postseason Tournament. After trailing by just two points at the end of the first half, the Bulldogs struggled to contain the aggressive offensive style of the Athenas and fell to the regular-season champions by a score of 49-56.
After CMS got off to a hot start, the Bulldogs charged back with senior forward Victoria Fakalata (East Palo Alto, CA) leading the rally with two buckets and a free-throw to cut the deficit to three at 7-10 with 15:51 left in the first half.
But the Athenas' tenacious defense inspired a 6-0 run near the midway point of the stanza, extending their advantage to 16-7.
However, sophomore guard Jade Cheldelin (Portland, OR) snapped the U of R's scoring skid by hitting a turn-around jumper with 11:50 to go in the period. On the Maroon and Gray's next possession, Fakalata sank a 15-footer to bring the score to 11-16.
After a slight scoring drought on both sides, Bulldog senior guard Kaity Lykins (Simi Valley, CA) buried two, short-corner jumpers to make it 17-23 with less than five minutes remaining in the first frame.
Senior forward Nicole Packard (Thousand Oaks, CA) came off the bench to provide a solid foundation on defense, halting the Athena scoring under the hoop, while also burying a triple with the shot clock expiring. Moments later, junior forward Brinsley Farry (Ventura, CA) repeated the trend by knocking down a shot from three-point land to cut the score to 23-25 at halftime.
Freshman Reyna Ta'amu (Lakewood, CA) provided the hot hand for the Bulldogs early in the second half after working actively in the paint to notch seven points in a three-minute span, including a momentum-grabbing three-point play. With a little over 12 minutes to go, Redlands trailed by three at 34-37.
However, a quick five points by the Athenas put Redlands back in a three-possession hole.
Senior guard Caitlin Ciardella (South San Francisco, CA) knocked down a clutch triple with 10:35 remaining to keep the Bulldogs within striking distance.
But CMS successfully defended the basket while converting opportunities on the offensive end of the hardwood to hold off Redlands' comeback efforts.
Although Ta'amu and Lykins remained persistent for the Bulldogs by gaining key trips to the charity stripe, it was not enough to make up the difference in the score, resulting in the season-ending 49-56 loss for the Maroon and Gray.
Ta'amu led the Bulldogs in scoring with 12 points, while going 6-for-9 from the line, in 11 minutes of action.
Fakalata finished with 11 points, while Lykins hauled in eight rebounds to add to her eight-point tally.
The Bulldogs advanced to the SCIAC Postseason Tournament for the eighth-consecutive time. With tonight's result, they finish the 2014-15 season with a record of 12-14, which includes a 9-7 conference showing.