The University of Redlands women's basketball team hit the road for Saturday evening's showdown against Benedictine University at Mesa (AZ) at the Chapman University Winter Classic. During a game that included nine lead changes and 10 ties, the Bulldogs rallied back from seven points down in the fourth quarter to force overtime before suffering a difficult 80-83 defeat to the Redhawks.
The first quarter saw both teams come out firing with proficient offenses that included a nine-point effort from Redlands' senior forward Reyna Ta'amu (Lakewood, CA). First-year guard Alyssa Lee (Monterey Park, CA) chipped in four points for the Maroon and Gray. Despite Benedictine's 64.3% shooting performance, the Bulldogs trailed by only two points at 18-20 after 10 minutes of action.
The teams continued to trade scoring punches by pouring in a combined 49 points in the second quarter, but the Redhawks gained a nine-point spread at 48-39 with continued offensive success. Nonetheless, Redlands stayed in the game with 10 made free-throws, including four apiece by senior forward Allison Siksnus (Placentia, CA) and Ta'amu.
Following an inspiring halftime speech by Head Coach Rich Murphy, the Bulldogs made the necessary adjustments and held Benedictine to only 11 points on 20% shooting in the third quarter. Redlands stepped up in the rebounding battle with a 10-6 edge while also upping its offensive display to 46.7%. Siksnus caught fire by scoring eight points in seven minutes for the Maroon and Gray.
Now trailing 58-59 at the start of the fourth frame, Redlands overtook the Redhawks on a pair of first-year forward Camille Mosley (Riverside, CA) jumpers, which forced Benedictine to call a timeout. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, this provided a key shift in the momentum, as Benedictine earned a 71-64 advantage with 5:22 left in regulation.
However, buckets by Ta'amu, senior guard Courtney Chen (La Cañada, CA), and Siksnus kept the Maroon and Gray within striking distance. In the final 80 seconds of the game, Siksnus and Ta'amu combined for five points while the Bulldogs held the Redhawks scoreless to force overtime at 75 apiece.
Unfortunately, Benedictine gained the upper hand in the extra stanza, as turnovers and fouls played a critical role against the Bulldogs. Down by only three, Redlands tossed up one final attempt to even the count but it was blocked, which sent the Bulldogs home with an 80-83 loss.
Ta'amu paced the Maroon and Gray with 25 points on 10-for-14 shooting. She also pulled in eight rebounds. Siksnus followed with 20 points and six rebounds. First-year guard Alexandria Iannone (Fullerton, CA) and first-year forward Kellis Dack (Vancouver, WA) each dished out six assists as key playmakers for the Bulldogs.
Redlands (5-5) travels back to Chapman on Monday, January 1, for a 2 p.m. tip-off against Amherst College (MA).