California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Regals become the top SCIAC seed in win over Occidental

Kaiya+Mack+drives+towards+the+basket+during+the+second+period.
Owen Brown
Kaiya Mack drives towards the basket during the second period.

California Lutheran University’s women’s basketball team secured the top spot in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament with their 102-84 victory over the formerly number 1-ranked Occidental College Tigers on Feb. 7.

In their last matchup against the Tigers on Jan. 3 at Occidental College, the Regals lost a close contest, dropping the game 81-85.

“We were not gonna lose to Oxi a second time. This time it was gonna be different, we were gonna beat them no matter what,” first-year forward Alline Ballard said.

The Tigers scored first in the first quarter off of a 2-pointer and a free throw. However, junior guard Sara Mills made sure the Tiger lead was short lived, responding with 4 points, giving the Regals a 4-3 lead. The Regals exercised a high–pressure style of defense, giving the Tigers little chance to keep the ball in their half of the court.

“We really tried to work on getting three stops in a row, which is called a kill, and working on getting a stop-stop and score which is really important to us,” Head Coach Kelli DiMuro said.

The first period ended with the Regals leading the Tigers 21-19, with both teams recording five fouls. 

The Tigers were the first to strike in the second period as they put up 4 points, giving them a 23-21 lead. The Regals responded with a 2-pointer from Mills, tying the game at 23 points. The Regals outscored the Tigers 29-17 in the second period and finished the first half with a 50-36 lead as well as a total of 10 fouls compared to the Tigers’ six fouls. 

“There are 20 minutes, points can change at any time, that’s only seven baskets, so we had to stay locked in and no matter what, keep attacking,” Ballard said. 

Sophomore point guard Janna Holley said defensive training and new defensive concepts were developed for the Regals during training sessions ahead of the match against the Tigers.

“[Training was] very intense, lots of defense, a lot of talking, new ideas and concepts. Last game I did not guard Toni Thompson, this time I did,” Holley said.

In the Regals’ previous loss at Occidental, the Tigers’ senior guard Toni Thompson was the current leader in points and led the game with 42 points. Ballard said Thompson was a key player that the Regals watched out for this time around.

“We switched our defense and didn’t let Toni Thompson score as much,” Ballard said.

At the start of the second half, the Regals switched gears from the high-pressure defensive strategy into a low block to maintain energy and their 14-point lead for the remaining two periods.

“We wanted to attack them coming into the game, but we got a little bit of tired legs and we wanted to make sure that we were playing solid half-court defense,” senior center Aliya DiMuro said.

The Regals outscored the Tigers 26-24 in the third and fourth periods.

The Tigers struck first in the third period, scoring two successful free throws after a foul by Ballard. However, Ballard responded with a layup that returned the Regals to a 14-point lead over the Tigers.

The fourth period began with the Tigers scoring as well, closing the gap to 76-60. However, DiMuro responded with a 2-pointer to extend the Regals’ lead to 78-62.

“We are going to keep working on defense and rebounding, we know that is going to win us championships. So we are laser-focused on that, and we are going to fight to the end,” Aliya DiMuro said.

On Saturday, Feb.10 the Regals beat the California Institute of Technology Beavers 64-61, leaving two games left in the season. The Regals have a home record of 10-0 and are one home win away from ending the regular season with a perfect home record. The Regals will travel to Whittier to face the Poets on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m.

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