PASADENA, Calif. — The Cal Lutheran defense held on to stave a late comeback from the Caltech Beavers to pick up the 61-56 victory in their conference opener, Wednesday night. Though both teams finished shooting 28.6 percent from behind the three-point line, the difference was a season second-best 10 threes from the Regals compared to just two from the Beavers.
Five of those threes came from freshman Cameron Mallory who came off the bench to light up the court with 22 points, 5-8 from behind the arc and 7-10 overall from field goal range. She additionally added a team-high six rebounds alongside two steals and two assists.
Beside her, sophomore Jessi Westering returned from injury to make her season debut in the starting lineup. She opened her year with the first points of the contest – a no-doubt trey 46 seconds into the first quarter. The six-foot forward finished the night with eight points and an offensive board.
After Westering's opening goal, the team followed to open the game with an 11-point scoring run. Sophomore Kailee Yan nailed a three of her own followed by a layup from senior Rylie Wada and trey from Mallory before the Beavers even got their first points of the night.
Yet the threes continued as sophomore Taylor Oshiro made a three of her own to make it 14-2 before Mallory made her second of the night to make it 17-2. The back-to-back scores gave the Regals their largest lead of the night just two and half minutes into the first period.
The lead held on as both teams had a quiet second period, combining for just a total of 21 points in the ten-minute span, to send the Regals with the 31-18 lead at the half.
The Beavers response began slowly when they returned to the court, but before long, they broke away to outscore the Regals 17-17 in the third quarter. Behind their leading scorer Elizabeth Eiden who finished with 20 points, the Beavers returned from a 13-point deficit to make it a one-possession game 38-35 heading into the final period.
Freshman Haley Tyrell made the first layup of the final 10 minutes, looking to break the score open, but the Beavers responded with three consecutive made layups to take a one-point lead, 41-40 with 7:51 left to play. The Regals regained the lead on their next possession, but free throws by Caltech's Samantha D'Costa gave them the slim lead back.
The lead was short lived, though, as Mallory scored six straight points to put Cal Lutheran back on top 48-45 with six minutes on the clock. But the back-and-forth battle continued with Cal Lutheran holding on to a one-point advantage with just two minutes left to play.
Twenty seconds later, junior Jozie Tangeman hit a crucial three to push the lead to four 56-52. Westering and sophomore Jade Jordan followed with free throws to make it a 58-52 score while winding down the clock to just 25 seconds.
Though the Beavers made two late free throws and a layup by Madeline Schemel, the Regals went 3-4 at the line to hold on to their final lead and close out the night with the 61-56 win.
The victory moves Cal Lutheran to 2-3 overall and 1-0 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The team returns play Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. PST against the Whittier Poets on Dave Jacobs Court inside the Graham Athletic Center.
Box Score: CLU 61, CIT 56
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Release by Christy Effendie, Assistant Sports Information Director