Redlands Women's Basketball Edges Occidental in 65-64 Thriller

Photo credit: Mollie Craighead
Photo credit: Mollie Craighead

The University of Redlands women's basketball team squared off against the Occidental College Tigers in Wednesday's Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown in Eagle Rock.  After trailing from the eight-minute mark of the first quarter, the Bulldogs clawed their way back into the game by taking advantage of free-throws, quality shooting, and a productive bench to steal the 65-64 win in a hard-fought contest.

The teams traded buckets to open the contest, before Oxy created a slight lead at 8-4 by capitalizing on a few Bulldog turnovers.

Senior guard Jade Cheldelin (Portland, OR) provided an important and-one play immediately following a timeout by Head Coach Rich Murphy to move the Maroon and Gray within one with 6:22 to go in the opening frame.

Redlands continued to keep the game close, thanks in part to crucial three-pointers by freshman guards Mariana Ecija (San Diego, CA) and Cassandra Lacey (La Canada, CA).  However, the Tigers answered with a late trey-ball of their own to secure a slight 21-17 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

During the early part of the second, junior guard Caitlyn Dixon (Seattle, WA) stepped up to the charity stripe for three free-throws, which cut the deficit to 23-25.  But Occidental continued to answer with important scoring runs to make it a two-possession game at the midway point of the game.

Similar to the previous quarter, Redlands took advantage of opportunity at the free-throw line, with junior guard Courtney Chen (La Canada, CA) sinking all three of her attempts to make up some of the deficit.  Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they suffered a slight scoring drought, as the Tigers continued to press on the gas with an 11-5 run to finish out the third frame.

With sophomore forward Reyna Ta'amu (Lakewood, CA), junior guard Angela Silver (Scotts Valley, CA), Ecija, and Cheldelin stepping up with critical buckets, the Bulldogs rediscovered their offensive rhythm and rallied to tie it up at 55 with 5:45 remaining in the game.  Moments later, Redlands earned its biggest lead of the night at 61-58 when Cheldelin hit a nothing-but-net jumper.

Although the Tigers managed to regain the lead at 64-63 with 29 second to go, Cheldelin's late jumper was enough for Redlands to secure the hard-fought win.

Cheldelin finished with a team-high 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting.  Ta'amu added a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds, including six on the offensive end.  Ecija led the Bulldog bench brigade with 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting.  Silver hauled in 10 rebounds to go along with six points.

Overall, the Bulldogs went 25-for-31 at the stripe in an impressive showing. 

Following a two-game road stint, Redlands (8-9, 5-3 SCIAC) heads home to the friendly confines of Currier Gym on Saturday, January 28, for a conference bout against the Caltech Beavers.  Tip-off is slated for 5 p.m.