The University of Redlands women's basketball team headed to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges for a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown on Saturday evening. Due in part to Redlands' stellar 63.6% shooting from beyond the arc and strong bench support, the Bulldogs battled through 10 ties and 14 lead-changes to edge the Athenas by a final score of 64-63.
Redlands struck first when junior forward Reyna Ta'amu (Lakewood, CA) hauled in an offensive board to give the Bulldogs another scoring opportunity. Sophomore guard Mandy Silver (Scotts Valley, CA) took full advantage by hooking in a lay-up off of a crafty pass from junior guard Courtney Chen (La Canada, CA).
With the teams trading buckets, the score remained neck-and-neck through the first nine minutes of action. With a minute left in the first quarter, freshman guard Mariana Ecija (San Diego, CA) made her presence known, as she sunk two-straight, nothing-but-net three-pointers to give the Bulldogs a slight 17-14 lead.
In the second stanza, Ecija picked up right where she started by registering the Bulldogs' first points of the period off her third-straight shot from downtown. Redlands started to pull away after two made Ecija free-throws, which were followed by senior guard Jade Cheldelin's (Portland, OR) lay-up. Junior guard Angela Silver (Scotts Valley, CA) and freshman guard Cassandra Lacey (Victorville, CA) each added a jumper to put the Bulldogs ahead by a score of 28-23. Although the second quarter saw the least scoring for both teams, Redlands entered halftime with a five-point advantage.
However, the Athenas began the third frame with a 14-7 run to grab a 37-35 lead.
Just ten seconds later, A. Silver decided to take the offense into her own hands, as she stepped back and hit a trey-ball off of a Cheldelin assist. After a jumper by A. Silver, Ecija let go of another three-ball to give Redlands the advantage at 43-39.
The Athenas refused to go away and forced another back-and-forth battle early in the final quarter. At the 4:28-mark of the fourth, Ecija hit her sixth and final three-pointer of the game to put Redlands up by one at 57-56. Neither team could create any cushion, forcing this game to come down to the final possessions.
With 26 seconds left, CMS overtook the lead by completing an and-one play at 63-62. Following a timeout by Head Coach Rich Murphy, Ta'amu got the ball with time winding down and hit the game-winning lay-up with three ticks left on the clock. Although the Athenas had one final opportunity to win it, the shot just missed, deeming Redlands victorious in a hard-fought battle.
Ecija finished the game with a career-high 22 points, including a 6-for-7 showing from downtown, to lead an effective bench brigade that scored 36 points.
Cheldelin added 18 points and three assists, while Ta'amu chipped in six points.
Redlands (10-10, 7-4 SCIAC) continues on the road by heading to the University of La Verne on Wednesday, February 8. Game time is slotted for 7 p.m.