LA VERNE, CA — Behind Sarah Mackey's 33 points and a strong second half defense, the Slugs rallied from 17 points down to defeat the La Verne Leopards 104-97. The Slug stat line reads as follows –committed 26 turnovers, allowed 16 3 point shots, and gave up 62 first half points and 97 total points. How could the Slugs win with numbers like that? The answer strangely enough was strong defense. Behind the outstanding second half defense of Taylor Willis, Ryane Ortiz, Erin Joo and Sarah, the Slugs held the Leopards to just 32 second half points.
The Leopards play an all or nothing run and gun offense and defense. They shoot 3s (51 for the game), press all over the court and try to wear you out. The Slugs struggled early as the Leopards hot shooting opened a 34-17 lead with 11 minutes to go in the first half. The Leopards press all over the court. They will give up a 2 point basket as long as they get a 3 pointer. The Slugs had numerous chances but failed to convert. The game started to change at the 10 minute mark as the Leopards started to miss some of those 3s. Geena Giovannetti converted a tough layup. Sarah got two easy baskets off nice passes from Taylor and Sarah Fitzgerald. In this fast paced up and down game, Lashay Alexander, Jean Dulay Ashley Holmes and Trina Torres provided much need relief and contributed key baskets as UC Santa Cruz cut the lead to 62-54 at the half.
Offensively the second half belonged to Sarah. She scored the first 6 points cutting the lead to 62-60 with 18 minutes to go. The teams traded baskets until back to back hoops by Trina, Taylor and Geena gave the Slugs their first lead 69-66 with 14 minutes to play. The Leopards battled making 3 straight 3 point shots and although Sarah made 3 layups the Slugs trailed 78-77 with 10 minutes remaining. Both teams fought for this game matching each other basket for basket and with 6 minutes to go the Slugs held a slim 87-85 lead. At this point the Slug defense took over. The Slugs cut off the passing lanes, challenged every shooter and fought for every rebound. The Leopards seemed to tire under the Slug pressure and made only 4 of 27 second half three point shots.
A key three point shot by Taylor stunned La Verne and gave the Slugs a huge 95-86 lead. A few minutes later Ryane drilled another three and this one was over. The Slugs improved their record to 13-8 guaranteeing their first winning season since 1997. Way to go Ladies!