SRJC 70, College of the Redwoods 57
The Bear Cubs (4-3) got a bye in the first round of their own Caren Franci Invitational Tournament when Mendocino College was unable to dress enough healthy players, so they advanced to the winner's bracket, where their opponent was the College of the Redwoods Corsairs (5-4). In their first round contest against the Eagles of West Hills-Lemoore, the Corsairs, who were behind for nearly the entire game won the game in the final seconds by a score of 67-66.
Kerianne Noonen scored the first two points of the game on free throws on the Bear Cubs' first possession, then sank a 3-pointer at the 8:12 mark for a 5-0 lead. Consecutive field goals by Ashley Hart and Vai Thompson extended the lead to 9-0 after three minutes of play. The Corsairs scored the next six points before Brooke Santander hit a field goal with 4:25 on the clock for an 11-6 lead. But the Corsairs scored two field goals in the final 20 seconds of the quarter to cut their deficit to 15-17.
The Bear Cubs started the second quarter with the ball and Zaina Depina was fouled on a shot. She made both free throws. The Bear Cubs then proceeded to score the next 19 points of the quarter, including 3-pointers by Kylie Oden, Brooke Santander, and Zaina Depina to lengthen their lead to 38-15 with 2:19 left. The Corsairs made their first successful shot, a 3-pointer, at the 1:23 mark and followed that with a field goal and two free throws to go into halftime behind 22-41.
The Corsairs put the first four points on the scoreboard in the third quarter. Brooke Santander and Vai Thompson made back-to-back field goals to start the Bear Cubs' scoring. Zaina Depina's 3-pointer at the 6:14 mark made the score 49-27. The Corsairs outscored the Bear Cubs 9-4 during the remainder of the quarter to cut their deficit to 36-53.
To start the fourth quarter Niambi Saint Louis made one of two free throws, Kylie Oden sank a 3-pointer, and Brooke Santander and Saint Louis each scored a field goal to stretch their lead to 61-39 with 8:09 on the clock. During the next four minutes the Bear Cubs only tallied two free throws each by Vai Thompson and Madison Barsuglia, while the Corsairs added six free throws, two 3-pointers, and a field goal to make the score 65-53 with 4:00 to play. Saint Louis converted a layup at the 3:50 mark. The Corsairs scored a field goal with 1:22 to play and another 30 seconds later. The Bear Cubs scored the final three points of the game on a free throw by Saint Louis and two by Kerianne Noonen for a 70-57 victory.
Vai Thompson was the leading scorer for the Bear Cubs with 15 points on 6 out of 9 field goal attempts and 3 out of 4 from the free throw line. Brooke Santander scored 13 points. Niambi Saint Louis scored a career-high 10 points and registered her first double-double with 11 rebounds. She also led the team in steals with 5 and blocked 3 shots. Kerianne Noonen sat out much of the first half and the start of the third quarter with 3 fouls still finished with 9 points and a team-high 7 assists. Zaina Depina, who played well as the back-up point guard, sank two 3-pointers and two free throws for 8 points and also blocked 3 shots. Kylie Oden contributed 7 points and 8 rebounds. Ashley Hart added 4 points and Melyra Nicolis and Madison Barsuglia 2 each.
The win advances the Bear Cubs to the Championship game against Big 8 opponent Sacramento City College (8-2), who defeated San Joaquin Delta College (10-2) in overtime 65-59.