CLAREMONT, CA – Pomona-Pitzer fought off a late deficit as they handed Caltech a gut wrenching 68-62 setback on Thursday evening.
For the third time this season the Beavers showed the progress it has made by coming within single digits of grabbing a league win for the first time in three-plus seasons. Earlier this year the Beavers fell by just five points to the Sagehens. In addition to nearly beating Pomona-Pitzer twice, Caltech dropped a three-point game to La Verne earlier this month.
After the two squads traded the first few points of the game, the Beavers took a lead they wouldn't relinquish the rest of the half. An Esther Du three-pointer with 12:25 left in the first half put Caltech in front 12-9. The Beavers stretched that lead to eight points at 21-13 when Stephanie Wong connected on a shot from behind the arc less than four minutes later.
Holding a 27-19 edge with just over five minutes left in the frame, Caltech was in control. However, the Sagehens slowly closed the gap on their eight point deficit. The home team closed the half on a 13-4 scoring spree as the Beavers took a 34-32 lead into the locker room.
Pomona-Pitzer briefly retook the lead on an Alaina Woo three-point play a minute into the second half. The Beavers didn't panic as they responded by scoring 14 of the next 22 points to grab a 50-43 advantage with 14:08 left in the contest. Caltech eventually took an eight-point lead at 60-52 on a Grace Leishman jump shot with just under seven minutes remaining.
Unfortunately the Beavers got stuck on 60 points for the next four-plus minutes as Pomona-Pitzer got back into the game. The Sagehens capped off a 10-0 scoring spurt on a Woo three-pointer with 3:17 left until the final buzzer. Caltech's ensuing possession tied the score at 62-62 as Bridget Connor nailed a 10-foot jumper.
Both squads came up empty on each of their next two possessions. Jenn Okonkwo's field goal with 1:36 remaining gave the Saghens the lead for good. It was the sixth lead change of the game. Caltech had three opportunities to score on their next possession but couldn't find the bottom of the net. Amelia Hummel's jumper with 59 ticks left stretched the home team's lead to 66-62.
The Beavers couldn't get a shot off on their next opportunity as they turned it over. The Sagehens took advantage by upping their lead to five points when Ruthie Shapiro made one of two foul shots. Down five points the Beavers had two possessions to cut into the deficit. But a missed jump shot by Connor with 29 seconds left then a turnover with less than 10 seconds remaining sealed the game in the home teams favor.
Wong nearly recorded the programs first triple-double. The sophomore scored 10 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed eight rebounds in 39 minutes. Connor led all Caltech scorers by recording her 10th double figure scoring game of the season with a 17-point evening. Du and Kate Lewis chipped in 11 and 10 points respectively.
As a team Caltech dished out 21 assists which represents the most against a SCIAC foe this season.
Okonkwo scored a game high 18 points to pace the Pomona-Pitzer offense.