The Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference served up a dish of the finest women’s basketball in the league’s first post-season tournament.
“I wanted to see La Verne win and indeed they delivered,” University of La Verne president Stephen Morgan said.
The tournament included Cal Lutheran, Occidental, Redlands and the Leopards.
Fans filled Rush Gymnasium at Eagle Rock to get a taste of competitiveness with La Verne and Occidental facing off for the championship game.
The game was the fourth time this season that the teams challenged one another for the chance at victory.
La Verne won two of the three match ups, falling short one game, despite capturing the SCIAC league title over Occidental.
“We had a short glitch in conference,” ULV assistant coach Sydni Marak said.
With tension high for both teams, the score was tied on four occasions in the first half of play, while the lead changed 10 times.
“This conference tournament definitely makes the SCIAC league more exciting,” former player Denae Howell said.
With two seconds remaining in the first half, senior guard Marissa Raya received an in bounce pass and shot a 50-footer, gaining a 28-25 lead over Oxy with the swish at the buzzer.
“Two days ago I was practicing that shot with our grad assistant Stefanie Foster. It paid off tonight,” Raya said.
Carrying the intensity into the second half of play ULV held the Tigers to three of their 10 field goal attempts, leading 44-32 while they made five of their seven in the same seven-minute time frame.
Defensive cheers were heard from both sides of the gym, including each teams benched players. who were excited by the game.
Holding Tiger forward Brianne Brown to nine points before fouling out was a pay off for La Verne compared to Brown’s last performance of 33 points.
“I thought our team was focused and ready, ready to take what was theirs,” Marak said.
Leading 48-40, the Leopards took advantage of their competitive edge over the Tigers and went on a 17-2 run, with La Verne fans on their feet for the 65-42 cushion.
Dishing out 11 assists, Lindsey Shiomi became the all-time ULV leader in that category. She now has 310 career assists, breaking the previous record of 303 by guard Vicky Garcia.
“Bottom line I wanted to win the game and if I happened to win the record, great,” senior point guard Shiomi said.
Raya reached a game high of 22 points while forward Trenecca Jones earned herself her 15th double-double this season with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
“I go out there to play to the best of my ability,” Jones said. “It’s a great accomplishment. It shows my consistency.”
Ashley Paul gave 13 points to ULV and Emily Carrillo added eight.
The match up against La Verne and Occidental was a result from last Thursday’s semifinal games.
La Verne hosted Redlands at Frantz Athletic Court and defeated the Bulldogs 65-60 at a chance to play Occidental after the Tigers 69-47 win over Cal Lutheran.
The post season championship title will allow La Verne an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
“Everyone has a bad game, but tonight we showed who the real SCIAC champs were,” Raya said.
“I am thrilled for these young women, the coaches and the institution they have played a part in a NCAA berth; this is a historical moment,” Ragsdale said.
To cap off a great week for ULV, Jones was named SCIAC Female Athlete of the Week on Wednesday.
La Verne will open tournament action in the Pacific Northwest to take on Northwest Conference Tournament champion Puget Sound on the Loggers' home court in the second of two first round games in Tacoma, Wash., today.
Danielle Lampkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.