The Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference women’s basketball tournament champions La Verne Leopards traveled to Tacoma, Wash., last week, for what would be the last game of their season.
“At first it’s really sad knowing it was my last real game but I like the way the season went. I’m really happy,” senior guard captain Marissa Raya said.
The University of La Verne defeated Occidental in the SCIAC post season tournament allowing them an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
“We wanted to get further than last year,” Raya said. “I think we were as prepared as we could be.”
“We have been to the first round,” assistant coach Sydni Myrick said. “As coaches we are always looking to move it up to the next level.”
The Leopards fell to the University of Puget Sound 74-58, in this year’s NCAA First Round at Memorial Fieldhouse.
“We did not play our game; we seemed intimidated,” freshman point guard Mayra Dueñas said.
La Verne, leading 8-5 early in the game, saw three consecutive key three-pointers taken by Puget Sound while the Loggers went on a 20-4 run, giving the Leopards a 13 point deficit with about seven minutes remaining in the first half.
Using their size advantage, the Loggers (22-4) claimed a 45-32 rebounding edge, while gaining 24 offensive boards over La Verne.
“The transition from conference teams here and teams there was much different,” Dueñas said.
La Verne experienced its largest halftime deficit of 11 points, trailing 36-25.
Carrying the momentum into the second half the Loggers took a 47-30 lead after scoring on their first five possessions.
La Verne pulled within 54-44 at the 12 minute mark and 61-51 with six minutes left in play, but did not get past the 10 point range.
Seniors Charleen Guerrero and Raya added 13 and 12 points each, while Trenecca Jones led the Leopards with 20 points on a 8-12 effort from the field.
La Verne will be losing five seniors after their 2008 season, bidding farewell to Raya, Lindsey Shiomi, Guerrero, Leslie Elrod and Jenny Strycula.
The finish comes after back-to-back playoff appearances.
“I’m sure we will make it again and next time go past first round,” Dueñas said.
Danielle Lampkin can be reached at email@example.com.