PASADENA, CA – After trailing for a majority of the game, Cal Lutheran controlled the game's final few minutes as they came from behind to post a 79-69 win over Caltech.
In a tightly battled first half the Beavers never trailed. Cal Lutheran tied the score on one occasion at 17-17 with 9:04 left but couldn't grabbed the edge. Caltech continued to keep the Regals at arm's length then had one final run to grab the game's momentum heading into halftime. Leading 25-24, the Beavers finished the period on a 9-2 run capped off by an Ann Chen three-pointer with five ticks left in the half. The Beavers took a 34-26 lead into the locker room.
Caltech took their largest lead of the night when Bridget Connor gave her team a 38-26 edge with 18:44 left. Slowly but surely Cal Lutheran proceeded to get back into the contest.
Cal Lutheran took their first lead of the game at 56-54 with 7:46 remaining on a Chelesa Jacoby lay-up. The teams traded field goals on the next three possessions before the Regals slowly crept away. With the scored knotted at 58-58 the visitors scored five of the next six points as they took a two possession lead with 4:44 remaining.
A three-point play by Chen on the Beavers ensuing possession cut the Regals lead to two points. A Taylor Messick basket put the lead back up to four points moments later but Grace Leishman kept the score tight with jumper of her own on Caltech's next opportunity.
Jessica Salottolo hit a key three-pointer with 3:45 left to up the Cal Lutheran lead to 69-64. A pair of Chen shots from the charity stripe six seconds later kept the pressure on the visitors. Salottolo responded to the challenge with a lay-up near the end of the shot clock.
After empty possessions by both teams the Regals held a 71-66 lead with 2:41 left and Caltech's Michelle Wong at the foul line. The first-year made one of two to bring the Beavers deficit down to four points. Messick hit two from the foul line to increase the Cal Lutheran lead to six points at 73-67 with 2:29 remaining.
The Beavers final points of the evening came on a Leishman jumper with 1:17 left to, once again, put the Regals lead at four points. The ensuing possessions proved fatal for Caltech as the Regals hit two foul shots but the Beavers couldn't respond with points of their own. Cal Lutheran salted the game away by hitting four of their final six foul shots.
Offensive rebounding played a key role in the Regals comeback. During the final 20 minutes they out-rebounded Caltech 26-15 and grabbed 11 critical offensive rebounds. The final half saw Cal Lutheran post a 12-3 edge in second change scoring.
In Caltech's near upset of the defending SCIAC Tournament champions, Leishman posted her third double-double of the season. The sophomore recorded a career high 20 points while grabbing 12 rebounds.
Bridget Connor and Chen each added 13-point evenings. Chen tied a career high with her performance.
Salottolo came off the bench to score a game high 23 points. Jacoby chipped in a 10-point, 12-rebound effort.