The University of Redlands women's basketball team hosted the Regals of Cal Lutheran University in a heated battle that would decide third and fourth place of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) standings. Amongst an electric crowd, the Bulldogs battled back from a 16-point deficit to send the game into overtime. However, the Maroon and Gray's comeback fell short in a 67-74 loss that forced the home team into fourth place.
Before the start of the game, Redlands celebrated the careers of its seven seniors, including student-assistant coach Nicolee Quraishy (Rancho Santa Fe, CA), guard Courtney Chen (La Canada, CA), guard Caitlyn Dixon (Seattle, WA), forward Megan Fortenberry (Riverside, CA), forward Allison Siksnus (Placentia, CA), forward Angela Silver (Scotts Valley, CA), and forward Reyna Ta'amu (Lakewood, CA).
The first quarter saw the least amount of scoring for either team, as Cal Lutheran held a slight 11-7 lead after 10 minutes of action.
The Regals came out of the gates hot, going on a 19-8 run to put the Bulldogs in a sizable hole at 15-30 with only two minutes remaining in the second quarter. At the 1:24-mark, sophomore guard Cassandra Lacey (Victorville, CA) dished out a perfect pass to Dixon on the perimeter, who stepped back for a nice three-point shot to breathe some offensive life into the home team.
After a timely turnover and subsequent foul by the visiting team, Lacey hit both her shots from the charity stripe to pull within 10. However, Cal Lutheran made another free throw before halftime to lead 31-20 at the break.
Unfortunately, the Regals' shots continued to fall well into the third quarter. The game became a little more physical in this frame, as Lacey, Siksnus, and Ta'amu were a perfect 12-for-12 from the line to help keep the Bulldogs within striking distance at 33-48 with 10 minutes to go.
Hungry for a comeback, Redlands went on a 10-2 run, incredibly all scored by Ta'amu. Lacey was the main ball distributor as she dished out all four assists on Ta'amu's layups. Both teams were playing with passion and intensity that led to quite a few fouls. Siksnus subsequently hit her next two from the free throw line.
Now down by eight with 1:14 left to go, Dixon hit a huge three-pointer in traffic from Silver to make the score 50-55 and a comeback within reach. After a long minute and the crowd roaring, Dixon did the incredible and pulled up for another trey-ball from Lacey to close the gap to just one bucket.
Thankfully, Cal Lutheran only hit one of its subsequent free throws to give Redlands a fighting chance with only seven seconds left on the clock. Redlands had to draw up a quick play and the ball ended up in the hands of Siksnus in the near corner. Siksnus juked out a defender and stepped to her right to hit the last-second shot from downtown and tie the game at 56. The Regals' last-ditch effort at the buzzer failed, which sent the game into overtime.
The Bulldogs tacked on an incredible 23 points in the fourth and amongst great defense, held the Regals to just eight.
The overtime period was just as loud and fast-paced as the fourth quarter. A layup from Dixon and a layup and two free throws from Ta'amu kept the Bulldogs within three at 62-65 with just under three minutes to play in OT.
However, Cal Lutheran stayed calm at the line and sunk the majority of their free throws in the final 25 seconds of the game, resulting in a tough 67-74 loss for the Bulldogs on Senior Night.
Despite tonight's loss, Redlands owns a 14-11 overall record and a 9-7 mark in conference to take the fourth seed in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament. While making their 11th straight trip to the tournament, the Bulldogs face top-seeded Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Thursday, February 22, in Claremont. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.