In a game that featured the top-two scorers in the conference, it took an all-around team effort and a go-ahead three-pointer from first-year guard Jordan Smith (Tustin, CA) for the University of Redlands women's basketball team to take down the University of La Verne, 75-74, on the road on Saturday afternoon. The high-octane Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) victory puts the Maroon and Gray in a three-way tie for fifth place in the standings.
After both teams locked down on defense for the first few minutes of the contest, the Bulldogs jumped on the board first with a trey from first-year guard Alyssa Downs (South San Francisco, CA). After junior guard Cassandra Lacey (Victorville, CA) scored on the next play, Downs stepped back for another three-pointer to put Redlands up, 8-4, with 5:33 to go in the first.
As the action continued, sophomore guard Alyssa Lee (Monterey Park, CA) grabbed her own board and put it back up for the Bulldogs' 10-6 lead. Although the Leopards brought the game back to within one point twice down the stretch of the first quarter, sophomore guard Kellis Dack (Vancouver, WA) converted a layup to give the Bulldogs an 18-15 lead as time expired.
Although La Verne moved in front by the 8:03-mark, the Maroon and Gray did not stay down for long, as Lacey tied the game at 22-apiece on the ensuing possession. A few minutes later, Lacey scored six-straight points to help gain a 32-30 Bulldog lead with 2:09 left on the clock. Following a pair of free throws from first-year guard Kim Friedman (Agoura, CA) with two seconds left, the Bulldogs headed into the break with a 37-35 advantage.
The Leopards came out of halftime with four quick points to regain the lead just over a minute into the action. Nonetheless, Redlands scored on consecutive possessions to hold a 43-40 advantage nearly midway through the quarter.
Less than a minute after Smith entered the game, she assisted Dack on a jumper before knocking down one of her own a couple possessions later for Redlands' 49-46 lead with 3:25 on the clock. The Leopards fought back to within one, but sophomore guard Camille Mosley (Riverside, CA) nailed a pair of free-throws while Lacey stepped back for a jumper with 16 seconds on the clock for the Bulldogs' 57-52 advantage.
In the fourth quarter, the back-and-forth drama of the game continued, with La Verne sitting in front by the 7:38-mark.
However, the lead was short-lived, as Lee drove the lane for a layup on the next possession. Despite a Leopard trey on the other end, Downs matched it with her own bucket from deep to put Redlands up by one point at 64-63 with 6:55 remaining.
The Bulldogs staved off the Leopards for the next couple of minutes until a Leopard jumper finally put them up, 71-70, with 2:08 left in regulation. The teams traded scores to keep things incredibly close over the next few possessions, with this one clearly coming down to the wire.
With no timeouts, the Maroon and Gray remained poised and ran a play that resulted in Lacey finding Smith for the go-ahead three-pointer to quiet the home crowd and give the Bulldogs a 75-73 lead with nine seconds left on the clock. La Verne had two chances in the final seconds to steal the win, but Redlands closed the game with solid defense for the important SCIAC victory.
Lacey led the way for the Bulldogs with 20 points, including an 8-for-8 clip from the line. Downs chipped in 15 points, while Dack notched a near double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. Off the bench, Mosley scored eight points and pulled in six boards. Smith tallied five points, including the game-winning three-pointer, and three assists.
Redlands (7-11, 4-5 SCIAC) looks to ride its momentum back to Currier Gym on Wednesday, January 23, when it faces Whittier College at 7 p.m.