The University of Redlands women's basketball team took on the Whittier College Poets in a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown on Wednesday in Currier Gym. Despite a late Poet push, the Bulldogs held strong to secure the 49-47 win on a game-winning lay-up.
Although the team suffered a tough shooting spurt at the start of the game, junior forward Reyna Ta'amu (Lakewood, CA) went off to score the Maroon and Gray's initial seven points through the first eight minutes of action. While facing a slight 7-8 deficit, Redlands looked to junior guard Caitlyn Dixon (Seattle, WA) to knock down a huge three-pointer for the Bulldogs' first lead at 10-8. In the ensuing minutes, senior forward Sydney Bennett (Agoura Hills, CA) ended the quarter with a free-throw for a slight 11-10 advantage.
The team continued to roll through the second quarter by putting together a 9-2 run that began with a Bennett free-throw. Junior forward Allison Siksnus (Placentia, CA) tossed up a successful lay-up, before Ta'amu added two points for the Bulldogs. Following a pair of successful free-throws, Redlands looked to senior guard Jade Cheldelin (Portland, OR) to end the quarter with her first bucket of the night and send the Bulldogs into the locker room with a 22-16 lead.
Ta'amu, Siksnus, and Dixon combined for the first seven points on the third quarter, which resulted in the biggest Bulldog lead of the night at 26-16. Although the Maroon and Gray stayed in front, the Poets refused to go away, as they inched closer at 31-38 to enter the last quarter of the game.
Whittier showed grit and determination by scoring the first three points of the fourth frame. The Bulldogs needed someone to turn up the heat and senior guard Yoemma Esparza (Shafter, CA) answered the call by stepping back for a huge trey-ball.
In the subsequent few minutes of play, the Poets came up with big shots to equalize the score at 45 with 1:11 minutes left in the game. Junior guard Courtney Chen (La Canada, CA) drew the foul on her way to the bucket and sank both free-throws for a slight 47-45 advantage with 46 seconds left on the clock.
However, the Poets raced the ball back down the court for a lay-up to tie it up once again.
With time for one possession remaining, Chen raced the ball down the court and found Cheldelin, who shook two defenders for a crafty lay-up in the paint for the eventual Bulldog 49-47 win.
Following a Poet timeout, Whittier's last-second attempt to even the score resulted in a turnover due to Redlands' effective pressure.
Ta'amu led the team with 13 points, while Siksnus followed close behind with eight. Siksnus also hauled in a career-high 14 rebounds, while Bennett added nine rebounds and six points off the bench.
The Bulldogs (7-8, 4-2 SCIAC) travel to Cal Lutheran University on Monday, January 23, for a 7 p.m. SCIAC showdown against the Regals.