SRJC 59, Lassen Community College 58
The Bear Cubs (11-14), who earned a #16 ranking but were seeded #15 to avoid the possibility of facing fellow Big 8 member Diablo Valley College in the second round, hosted #17 Lassen Community College in the first round of the NorCal Playoffs. The Cougars (16-11) put in two field goals and a 3-pointer before Jasmine Henderson's layup on a long pass from Cammie Barsuglia got the Bear Cubs on the scoreboard with 6:05 on the clock. The Cougars added two free throws and Dar'Juanah Harris' second 3-pointer to jump out to a 12-2 lead at the 4:40 mark. On the Bear Cubs' next possession, Maiya Flores drove in on the left side between two defenders, then came down awkwardly injuring her knee and eventually had to be helped off the court. When play resumed, the Bear Cubs inbounded the ball but ended up turning the ball over. The Cougars scored another field goal. Jasmine Henderson drew a shooting foul and made one free throw with 3:32 left. The Cougars sank a 12-footer, then Shayla Newman scored inside, followed by Cammie Barsuglia's 3-pointer, and Henderson's layup to close the gap to 10-18 by the end of the quarter.
Jasmine Henderson took the Bear Cubs' first shot of the second quarter and drained the 3-pointer. The Bear Cubs didn't score again until Shayla Newman's successful post move with 6:58 on the clock. The Cougars answered with a 3-pointer. Newman cut down the key on a fast break, caught the pass from Britta Irvine, and made the layup. Harris sank a field goal, and 10 seconds later Lizeth Zavala took a quick shot from beyond the arc and swished it to get to 20-23 at the 5:16 mark. Henderson's 3-pointer with 3:50 left made the deficit 23-25. Harris sank her third 3-pointer 29 seconds later. During the remainder of the period the Bear Cubs made all four of their shots—three close shots by Newman and Henderson's third 3-pointer—plus two free throws by Henderson for 11 points. On the other side of the court, the Cougars tallied just two free throws and a field goal by Harris. The Bear Cubs outscored the visitors 24-14 in the quarter to take a 34-32 lead into halftime.
Jasmine Henderson scored the first point of the third quarter when she made one free throw 58 seconds in. She added two more points on a drive at the 7:22 mark. The Cougars made their first basket 15 seconds later. Britta Irvine's 15-footer about a minute after that put the Bear Cubs in front 39-34. Following a Cougars' field goal, Shayla Newman was fouled near the basket and made both free throws. The next time down she scored on a baseline inbounds play as she cut to the hoop and caught the pass from Irvine. Irvine was fouled with 3:59 left and made one free throw for a 44-36 lead. During the next 2:09 two Cougars drew shooting fouls, and each made just the first free throw. Lilly Orozco drew a foul and put in both free throws with 1:45 to go. The Cougars made one last field goal in the quarter, and so did Newman to give the Bear Cubs a 48-40 margin.
The Cougars, who had the ball to start the fourth quarter, drew a shooting foul on a 3-point attempt and made the first and third free throws. They next scored a field goal with 8:03 on the clock. Thirty-five seconds later, Jasmine Henderson completed a 3-point play when she was fouled while making a fast break layup. Then as the visitors attempted to pass to a player on the right side, Lizeth Zavala dashed in between, made the interception, and drove all the way down to bank in the layup with a Cougar on her tail to widen the lead to 53-44. The Cougars put in two unanswered field goals in a row before Shayla Newman's successful post move made the lead 55-48 at the 5:22 mark. Harris drew a shooting foul 25 seconds later and sank one free throw. With 3:54 left Britta Irvine scored on a drive just before the shot clock expired for a 57-49 lead. The Cougars scored inside with 2:47 remaining and about a minute later sank two free throws after Jasmine Henderson fouled out, to close the gap to 53-57. With 1:09 to go Maddie Strom put back her own missed shot to give the Bear Cubs a six-point lead. Seventeen seconds later Shayla Carrier drew a shooting foul and made both free throws. The Bear Cubs threw a pass intended for a post player that was picked off, and the Cougars eventually got the ball to Jocelyn Gandara who swished the 3-pointer with 32 seconds to go, getting her team within a point 58-59. The Bear Cubs called a timeout and advanced the ball. After inbounding the ball uncontested, they drew a foul with 18.6 seconds left. Since it was only the third team foul, the Bear Cubs took the ball out on the sideline. They had the potential of just passing the ball around to run out the clock, but instead lost the ball on a dribble into the backcourt. The Cougars recovered the loose ball and called a timeout with 8.5 seconds to play. They inbounded and got off two shots from inside the key, and DJ Hayes corralled the second miss as the buzzer sounded. The Bear Cubs were lucky to escape a heartbreaking ending, as they hung on to win 59-58.
The Bear Cubs got off to a shaky start in the first quarter as they watched Maiya Flores go down with a knee injury and committed seven turnovers. In the second quarter the Bear Cubs made 9 out of 14 shots (64%), including four 3-pointers, and turned the ball over just three times, enabling them to take a 2-point lead at the half. In the third quarter both Dar'Juanah Harris and Shayla Carrier picked up their fourth fouls, forcing them to the bench. This helped the Bear Cubs outscored the Cougars 14-8 in the period. The Bear Cubs' six turnovers in the fourth quarter nearly cost them the game, as the Cougars took advantage and nearly erased their entire deficit. Three Cougars scored in double figures: Jocelyn Gandara 19, Harris 14, and Carrier 10.
Jasmine Henderson stepped up big time to help take on the scoring load, and finished with a season-high 22 points. Shayla Newman made tough shots in the low post area and nearly had another double-double, as she scored 20 points and pulled down 9 rebounds. Britta Irvine and Lizeth Zavala each contributed 5 points, Cammie Barsuglia 3, and Maddie Strom and Lilly Orozco 2 each. Britta Irvine passed for 5 assists and DJ Hayes for 4.
The win earns the Bear Cubs a trip to Merced to face the #2 seeded Blue Devils in the second round of the NorCal Playoffs.