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Bear Cubs took #2 Chabot to the wire, falling 79-70

Bear Cubs took #2 Chabot to the wire, falling 79-70
 

            The #15 seed Bear Cubs (15-14, 8-6 Fourth Place Big 8) traveled to Hayward to take on the #2 seed Gladiators of Chabot College (26-3, 11-1 Champions Coast-North) in the second round of the Nor Cal Play-offs. On paper it appeared the Bear Cubs, who entered the game averaging 56 points per game, would have only a slim chance of defeating the hosts, who scored nearly 80 points a game. But the Bear Cubs gave the Gladiators gave a valiant effort and nearly pulled off the upset.

            The Gladiators won the tip and almost immediately blew past a defender and scored a lay-up. The Bear Cubs tied the score 96 seconds later. Alicia Mehtlan's 3-pointer at the 16:10 mark put the Bear Cubs behind by one, 5-6. Thanks to three free throws by Vai Thompson, a Jenna Dunbar 3-pointer, a field goal by Amber Hart, and a 3-pointer by Brooke Santander with 10:15 on the clock, the Bear Cubs had surged to a 16-10 lead. But the Gladiators responded with a 3-point play and three 3-pointers to close to within a point, 24-25, with 5:30 in the half. When Vai Thompson scored the Bear Cubs' last field goal of the half with 2:45 left, the Gladiators were ahead 32-30. The Bear Cubs only added four free throws, while their opponents tacked on nine more points to go into halftime with a 41-34 lead.

            The Bear Cubs started the second half with the ball and Alicia Mehtlan swished a 3-pointer. Two minutes later Alicia's field goal made the score 39-45. The Gladiators outscored the visitors 20-14 during the next nine and a half minutes to stretch their advantage to 65-53. Then Jenna Dunbar completed a 3-point play to start the Bear Cubs' 13-5 run to close the gap to 66-70 with 3:26 on the clock. When the Chabot coach was forced to call a timeout with 4 seconds on the shot clock and 2:08 on the game clock, the score was still 70-66. The Gladiators' inbounds pass was intercepted by Taylor Graham, but the Bear Cubs were not able to sink their shot attempt. The Gladiators rebounded and pushed the ball. Their leading scorer, freshman Morgan Green, Player of the Year from the North, drove through traffic to score and was fouled. She completed the 3-point play with 1:40 remaining for a 73-66 lead. Alicia Mehtlan was fouled on a drive then made both free throws with 1:17 to play. The Gladiators missed their next shot but scored on a putback. The Bear Cubs turned the ball over before they could get a shot off. Green was fouled on a drive. Her two free throws with 37 seconds left lengthened their lead to 77-68. With 20 seconds left, Alicia Mehtlan again was fouled on a drive and she made both free throws. The Bear Cubs fouled Green with 5 seconds to go, and she went to the line to shoot 1+1. She made both. The Bear Cubs got one last shot off, but it bounced off the rim, as their season came to an end with the 70-79 loss.

            The Bear Cubs played a gutsy game to the end and put a scare into the heavily favored home team. The Bear Cubs' defense was able to hold all of the Gladiators below their scoring average, with the exception of Morgan Green, who led all scorers with 35 points. The Bear Cubs made 25 out of 32 free throws (78%) while the Gladiators made 12 out of 15 (80%).

            Alicia Mehtlan scored a career-high 29 points by making 4 out of 7 field goal attempts, 3 out of 4 from beyond the 3-point line, and all 12 of her free throws, to go along with a team-high 7 rebounds. Brooke Santander sank 3 3-pointers and 6 out of 8 free throws for 15 points. Jenna Dunbar contributed 12 points, 7 rebounds, and a team-high 5 assists. Vai Thompson added 7 points, Niambi Saint Louis 3, Amber Hart 2, and Taylor Graham and Sarah Arteseros 1 each.