The University of Redlands women's basketball team took on Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) foe, Chapman University, in the friendly confines of Currier Gym on Wednesday night in a critical showdown. Despite keeping the score incredibly close throughout the game, the Panthers capitalized on Bulldog turnovers to slightly edge Redlands, 72-69.
The Bulldogs struck first, as junior guard Courtney Chen (La Canada, CA) hooked in a nice lay-up only 27 seconds into the game.
After Chapman sunk its first three-pointer for a slight lead, Redlands looked to sophomore guard Mandy Silver (Scotts Valley, CA) to answer with a sweet lay-up for a slight 4-3 advantage. However, the Panthers got on a roll to fire off a 10-2 run through the 3:30-mark of the first quarter.
After a quick timeout, Redlands gained a nice spurt of offense from freshman guard Mariana Ecija (San Diego, CA), who made her first jumper of the game and converted the subsequent free-throw for the three-point play. Freshman guard Cassandra Lacey (Victorville, CA) ended the quarter with a jumper of her own, before Chapman sunk a last-second shot to go ahead by a score of 17-11.
After the teams traded buckets throughout the second stanza, Chapman remained in front with a 30-21 advantage with 2:56 to go. However, junior forward Reyna Ta'amu (Lakewood, CA) hauled in a key defensive rebound to kick off a Bulldog 6-2 run that included a deep three-pointer by Ecija. On the Panthers' next possession, senior guard Selena Iriarte (Wilmington, CA) nabbed the rebound and raced it back down the court for a trey-ball of her own to put the Bulldogs within three at 27-30. Following a pair of Chapman free-throws, Redlands headed into the locker room at halftime with a slight 27-32 deficit.
The first few minutes of the third quarter were all Ta'amu, as she muscled her way to three-straight lay-ups to cut the Maroon and Gray's deficit to 33-38. A few minutes later, junior forward Allison Siksnus (Placentia, CA) drove to the net and completed the and-one play to put the team within two at 38-40. Play continued to be neck-and-neck, and as soon as Chapman attempted to pull away, Siksnus added a three-pointer to again move the Bulldogs within one bucket nearing the end of the third stanza.
The Bulldogs refused to go away and continuously fought to keep it close in the fourth quarter. Senior guard Jade Cheldelin (Portland, OR), junior guard Caitlyn Dixon (Seattle, WA), and Silver contributed key buckets down the stretch.
With 40 seconds left in the game, Ta'amu hit a lay-up and was fouled on the play. After sinking her free-throw for the successful three-point play, the Bulldogs faced a 63-68 gap. Forced to foul, Redlands took its chances at the stripe, but Chapman converted both attempts.
Nonetheless, Siksnus took advantage of an open look and banked in a huge shot from beyond the arc to close the deficit even further at 66-70. Redlands needed to foul wisely in order to regain possession, and Chapman had some trouble at the line, converting only one, before Cheldelin hauled in the important rebound. A 30-second timeout allowed Head Coach Rich Murphy to draw up the play, which turned into a Dixon three-pointer to make it a one-possession game at 69-71. After the Panthers converted only one of their subsequent chances at the stripe, the Bulldogs had a quality opportunity to tie it, but there was a little too much power behind the trey-ball, as it bounced off the backboard at the buzzer.
Ta'amu finished the game with 18 points and nine rebounds, followed by Siksnus with 11 points and one rebound. Cheldelin recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Ecija added eight points and a game-high seven assists.
The Bulldogs (9-10, 6-4 SCIAC) strive to return to the win column when they travel to Claremont to take on the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges Athenas on Saturday, February 4, at 5 p.m.