The University of Redlands women's basketball team took to the hardwood against the Whittier College Poets in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) action in hopes of remaining in the play-off hunt. After allowing the opening bucket to the Poets, the Bulldogs gained the lead, stepped on the gas pedal, and never looked back en route to a 62-51 victory.
The Bulldogs produced their biggest offensive output in the first quarter by putting up 18 points off of 63.6% shooting. After allowing the opening bucket by the Poets, the Bulldogs went on a 13-2 run that started with sophomore guard Courtney Chen's (La Canada, CA) three-pointer. Junior guard Jade Cheldelin (Portland, OR) and senior forward Brinsley Farry (Ventura, CA) backed Chen with a bucket each, before sophomore forward Reyna Ta'amu (Lakewood, CA) knocked down a pair of free-throws and a jumper. Junior guard Yoemma Esparza (Shafter, CA) located junior guard Brooke Hulett (Poway, CA) for a trey-ball to cap off the first quarter downpour, putting the Maroon and Gray up 18-6 after 10 minutes of action.
The Bulldogs continued to play well on the offensive end in the second quarter, as Esparza drove the lane for a lay-up on their first possession. Esparza shared the love by finding sophomore guard Cailtin Dixon (Seattle, WA) on an and-one play. Dixon completed the three-point play at the charity stripe for the Maroon and Gray's 25-6 advantage early in the second quarter.
Although the Poets' strung together quick 8-0 run, Esparza halted the rally by completing an and-one play off of a Cheldelin pass exiting a Bulldog timeout. Senior guard Ashton Beth (Windsor, CA) closed out the scoring in the second quarter by hitting a jumper at the buzzer to hold a 34-22 lead at halftime.
The Bulldogs struggled to remain hot in the majority of the third quarter, as the Poets came within six at the six-minute mark. With a pair of momentum-shifting steals, compliments of Esparza and Farry, the Bulldogs worked to expand their lead with buckets from Ta'amu and Farry. Esparza sealed the period with a three-point play to put the Bulldogs up 45-32 at the start of the fourth frame.
An all-around team effort highlighted the fourth quarter, with a handful of players becoming involved in the offensive scheme. Cheldelin picked up the pace for four points in two successful possessions. Farry continued to hit the boards hard by hauling in an offensive rebound and putting the ball back up off the glass for two points. Ta'amu put on the final touches for the Bulldogs in the latter minutes with two more buckets en route to Redlands' 62-51 victory.
Ta'amu tallied a game-high 16 points with four rebounds and two steals. Esparza played well and handled the Poets' full-court press with poise, as she drained 10 points, dished out six assists, and swiped four steals.
Cheldelin chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds, while Beth contributed four rebounds and two assists with solid defensive stands in 16 minutes of action.
Overall, Redlands host 51.9% from the floor, as compared to Whittier's 33.3% showing. The Maroon and Gray put together an impressive 61.5% effort in the fourth quarter.
With the win, Redlands (10-13, 7-7 SCIAC) remains a half-game ahead of Pomona-Pitzer Colleges for the fourth and final spot in the upcoming SCIAC Postseason Tournament. The Bulldogs look forward to hosting the conference-leading Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges Athenas on Saturday, February 20, for Senior Night at approximately 7 p.m. in Currier Gym.