The California Lutheran University women’s basketball team came out with a big win on the road, taking down the Whittier Poets, 61-58, on Saturday, Dec. 1 with junior guard Natalie Ruhl hitting a last second 3-pointer to seal the win.
After going back and forth throughout the whole game, Cal Lutheran kept composure and stayed calm on offense, allowing Ruhl to hit a wide-open 3-pointer from the right baseline. Ruhl was also the leading scorer of the afternoon, earning a total of 12 points for the Regals.
“I think that, because we got an extra possession, we needed to get a shot to win the game,” said Ruhl on hitting the last second shot. Ruhl also made four out of six attempted 3-pointers against the Poets.
Head Coach Lindsay Samaniego said she was proud of her team’s performance and hard work to pull out the last-second victory.
“Overall as a whole I thought it went well,” Samaniego said. “We showed good discipline defensively in the first half and we kind of let them take advantage of some of our mistakes defensively in the second half. But when we needed to get a stop, we got a stop and when we needed a big bucket, we got a big bucket.”
After holding the control in the first half of the game defensively, the Regals let the Poets back in the game in the third quarter, but were able to get things back under their own control in the fourth, hitting some clutch free throws to give them the edge ahead.
Ruhl said she felt that a lot of their team’s offensive success came from smart passes.
“Just ball movement and kicking it out, making the right reads to the open person,” Ruhl said.
In terms of holding down the defense for the Regals, sophomore forward Jessi Westering noted the team’s preparation for the match up with Whittier.
“I think everyone this week really focused on their scout and knowing their opponent really well so that way, whenever we did see a series or set that we knew, we’d recognize it right away and knew where to be,” Westering said. “Everyone is going to have a breakdown here or there, but I felt like we did a really good job as a unit staying locked in, knowing what they were about to do so we were ready for it when it came.”
On offense, Cal Lutheran showed poise and patience, looking ahead to make the extra pass and find the open girl to make the play. Westering was the second leading scorer on the afternoon with 11 points of her own.
“It was definitely the patience we had on offense and then everyone making the extra pass and, honestly, the reason that I got those points was ‘cause a lot of people made the extra pass when they could’ve taken a shot, so it was nice,” Westering said.
Heading into the next week of Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) play, the Regals take on Chapman University, a typically tough match-up for Cal Lutheran. Coach Samaniego plans to prepare her team in the best way possible to face the Panthers.
“It’s always a battle when we play Chapman. Their coach does a fantastic job preparing them and they play at a pace that a lot of people are very uncomfortable with, so for us in our preparation, we want to make sure we find a way to be as comfortable as possible against their pressure…and not let them dictate anything that we do.”
The Regals will battle the Panthers at home in Gilbert Arena on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.