PASADENA (Jan. 23, 2019) – Seniors Nika Haleftiras (San Diego, Calif. / Our Lady of Peace) and Elizabeth Eiden (White Plains, N.Y. / Holy Child) of the Caltech women's basketball team hit a pair of milestones to cement their status as two of the most prominent players in program history as the Beavers dispatched the University of St. Katherine for the fifth time in three years.
Haleftiras keyed the host Beavers with 22 points and knocked down a trio of three-pointers. However, in assisting on five baskets, Haleftiras became the all-time career assist leader for Caltech women's basketball. The senior needed just two more assists coming into Wednesday's game to tie the record but ultimately secured the all-time total with a nice pass on a three-pointer from junior guard Grace Peng (San Ramon, Calif. / California) with three minutes to go in the second quarter. Haleftiras finished the game with five assists and will have the rest of the year to continue to add to her total while helping the Beavers to greater success on the basketball court.
"It's very exciting," Haleftiras said. "I don't really play for stats necessarily but this one felt nice. It also felt really nice to win for the first time since December so we're just going to try and keep it going from here."
Eiden, meanwhile came into the game with the all-time career blocks record already in hand. Rather, the senior had another goal in mind: become the first Caltech basketball player to achieve 200 blocks in a career. Needing just one more to hit the 200-mark, Eiden achieved the milestone just 40 seconds into the game when she rejected the Firebirds beneath the basket and managed to do so again just 20 seconds later for block 201. The senior blasted through the 200-block wall with six rejections against St. Katherine and is now averaging 2.9 per game, which would be a new season-best average if the season ended today. Eiden also paced the Beavers in scoring and rebounding, with 26 points and 14 rebounds all while having secured the double-double by halftime and shooting a cool 12-for-15 from the field.
"Like Nika said, it's exciting to get there," Eiden said. "It feels great when you're able to hit the accomplishment on a game where your team is doing really good stuff and everyone is able to celebrate together."
Despite closing the opening 10 minutes with a 10-point lead, Caltech started comparatively slow to its pacing over the rest of the game and really turned it on in the third quarter. The Beavers hung 37 third-quarter points on the Firebirds where Haleftiras particularly took over with 12 of her 22 points. St. Katherine ultimately struggled to get out of the box thanks to Caltech's tough on-ball defense. The Beavers forced the Firebirds into 24 turnovers and won the turnover battle at a near 2:1 ratio. Peng, along with sophomore forward Lauren Suezaki led Caltech with four steals apiece and both players fed off of Haleftiras and Eiden's big scoring games. Peng scored 15 points to go with five assists and Suezaki assisted on four baskets of her own in a game where the Beavers led from coast-to-coast, managing to avoid trouble at every turn.
Head Coach Bridgette Reyes and the Beavers will look to make it two-in-a-row when they travel to Occidental College for a 2 p.m. game on Saturday, Jan. 26.