As temperatures rise and winter coats are packed away at the Claremont Colleges, the Pomona-Pitzer women’s basketball team (8-13, 5-7 SCIAC) has continued to heat up the court. The Sagehens were in full swing this week, taking on two California native teams: They hosted the Chapman University Panthers (16-6, 11-2 SCIAC) on Saturday, Feb. 6, and the California Lutheran University Regals (17-5, 11-2 SCIAC) on Tuesday, Feb. 9.
Coming in hot from a five-game winning streak, the Panthers proved to be a fierce foe for the Sagehens. Despite an astounding 10 points from Chapman guard Megan Charles in the first quarter, the Sagehens were able to hold the Panthers at bay. With ice in their veins, P-P put up a defensive fight, ending the first quarter down 19-15 to the Panthers.
At the sound of the buzzer, the teams returned to their benches looking to strategize in this battle of wills. With renewed fortitude, Chapman came out with an insurmountable hunger to keep their winning streak alive. The Panthers maintained their lead in the second quarter by outscoring the Sagehens 19-8. With notable offensive performances from Lauren Sato and Megan Charles (who each scored six points in the third quarter), Chapman did not relinquish its lead, and P-P came up short in the 81-56 loss.
It was a tough defeat for the Sagehens, but they were looking to change their mental game and turn their season around. “The Chapman game was followed by a serious talk about respect for the game and our goal to make playoffs,” McKenna VanderKley PZ ’17 recounted. “Such a large deficit to Chapman has rekindled our fire to fight for the whole 40 minutes of (each of) our next games.” The Sagehens may have lost one battle, but they were determined to find their rhythm in the games to come.
The Sagehens took this creed to heart, as they stepped into Rains Center Tuesday night to face the Cal Lutheran Regals. The first quarter proved to be promising, as Keilani Ikehara PZ ’19 scored the first basket of the game. The clock read 8:25 as Ikehara skirted around her opponents to find the open three pointer.
However, the Sagehens could not keep the lead: With nearly three minutes left in the first quarter, Cal Lutheran guard Sofia Cruz made a game-tying free throw after being fouled by Cassandra Palmer PO ’18. Cal Lutheran’s ability to maneuver the ball down the court at lightning speed away from the Sagehen hands ultimately earned them the lead. The Regals ended the night with an 18-point lead over the Sagehens, the final buzzer clocking a score of 76-58.
Naomi Baer PO ’19 recognized that “we came out strong in the first quarter but unfortunately couldn’t hold the momentum the rest of the game. Although we fought hard, we were tired and Cal Lu scored a lot off fast breaks on us, which ultimately put the game away.”
In the upcoming weeks, Pomona-Pitzer will look to cement both their mental and physical fortitude as they take on Occidental College Tuesday, Feb. 16. With just four games left in the regular season, the Sagehens hope to leave it all on the floor to earn a spot in the SCIAC playoffs.