In the first-ever SCIAC Women’s Basketball Tournament, the University of La Verne held off the University of Redlands 65-60 in a hotly-contested semifinal battle Thursday night at Frantz Athletic Court.
With the win, La Verne (19-7) sweeps the three games against the Bulldogs this season and will face Occidental in Saturday’s SCIAC Championship game in Eagle Rock. The Tigers defeated Cal Lutheran 69-47 in the other semifinal. Redlands ends its season at 17-9.
The Leopard defense proved key in holding the Bulldogs to 37.9% from the field while forcing 15 turnovers. Additionally, the Leos won the rebounding battle with 45 boards compared to 38 for the visitors.
ULV took control late in the first half with a 22-9 run to take its largest lead of the game at 34-21 with 3:02 remaining to eventually hold a 36-27 advantage at intermission.
The Bulldogs opened the second half with a 12-5 spurt to close within two points at 41-39 at the 15-minute mark. Redlands, however, wouldn’t get any closer as the Leopards were able to sustain their lead throughout. La Verne stretched the margin to eight points at 50-42 before the Bulldogs again whittled down the lead to two points (58-56) with five minutes left.
La Verne was able to subdue the Bulldogs by getting key baskets from Emily Carrillo and Trenecca Jones while not allowing a Redlands field goal for over four minutes. Heather Lokar’s three-point basket cut the ULV lead to 62-60 with 21 seconds left, but Jones converted four of five free throw attempts to advance the Leopards to Saturday’s championship game.
Jones tallied 17 points while posting a game-high 18 rebounds. In the process, she collected her 14th double-double of the season. Carrillo sparkled in her return to the lineup with 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting to tie for game-high honors with Jones. Marissa Raya added 10 points for the Leopards.
For Redlands, point guard Valarie Katayama posted a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds with Lokar totaling a team-high 12 points.