With the Pomona-Pitzer women’s basketball team trailing by three points with just a minute and half remaining in the fourth quarter, Emma Godfrey PO ’21 had the ball in her hands and wasn’t going to let another game slip away from the Sagehens.
The star forward scored six straight points, including two layups and two clutch free-throws, to give the struggling P-P women (5-14, 2-8 in conference) a much-needed 67-64 win over the University of California, Santa Cruz (4-11) on Saturday, Jan. 27.
“I think the biggest play of the game was when Emma Godfrey scored to put us up by one [point] with 40 seconds left,” Alexa Bayangos PO ’21 recalled.
But it was Bayangos herself who sealed the deal for the Sagehens, blocking her Banana Slug opponent’s three-point attempt, which would have sent the game into overtime, in the final seconds.
“Coach [Jill] Pace told us to body up and not let the other team get any threes off,” Godfrey said. “Bayangos’ stellar defense at the end of the game [kept] UCSC from getting a three.”
Renae Tamura PO ’21 was thrilled with her teammates’ lock-down defense at the end of the game.
“Our team knew we had to stop UCSC on defense and we were all completely focused on doing that,” Tamura said. “They did not even get a shot off and it was a great play to seal the win.”
Godfrey led the Sagehens with 30 points and 13 rebounds. Anita Romero PZ ’19 scored 12 points, while Keilani Ikehara PZ ’19 and Tamura bagged nine each.
Though the Sagehens led 25-18 at the half, Tamura said her team was “not completely in the game” early on. “We realized this at halftime and made adjustments,” she said. “We came out with intensity in the second half and were able to get the win.”
The game’s third quarter saw a huge uptick in scoring, but the Sagehens still led 45-39 entering the final frame. UCSC went on a run with three three-pointers, multiple successful layups, and some solid free throw shooting, tying the game at 57 with three minutes remaining. Riding their surge of momentum, the Banana Slugs retook the lead and pushed ahead of P-P 64-61 before Godfrey went on a tear.
After losing three conference games within the last month by four points or fewer, Bayangos was pleased with the clutch victory.
“Pulling out the win in tight games like these are huge confidence boosters for the team and will hopefully give us the momentum we need to finish out the season strong,” she said.
The win was only the Sagehens’ fifth of the season, out of nineteen games.
“Obviously the season has been tough on paper,” Godfrey said. “However, our team right now compared to the beginning of the season is unrecognizable. We have had numerous games within three points that could have gone either way. The second half of SCIAC is our time to get those wins.”
“Although our record may not reflect it, our coaches have led us to be competitors in every game that we play. We continue to grow every day, and I am excited for the future of the program,” she said.
As first-years, Godfrey, Tamura, and Bayangos have appreciated the “love and respect” from all the staff. In particular, Godfrey has loved how much “P-P athletics has created a home away from home.”
With six conference games remaining, Godfrey hopes the team can maintain its recent intensity.
“We need to treat every opponent like they are our SCIAC rival,” Godfrey said. “We are trying to win. … No matter who we are playing, we need to bring the same intensity.”
With a lowly 2-8 SCIAC record, P-P is a long shot to make the playoffs, but Saturday’s game was a positive sign. Bayangos believes the team is “very capable” of sneaking into the playoffs, and said the “ultimate goal is to finish strong.”