Photo: Noelle Davis
EAGLE ROCK, Calif. (Jan. 26, 2018) – The Caltech women's basketball team ended its SCIAC slump Saturday at Occidental College, beat the Tigers for the first time in four years and tied the all-time program wins record in a monstrous road performance.
Caltech only began to hit its stride between the final two quarters but did enough to hang with Oxy through the first half of the game. The Beavers trailed the Tigers by just four points at half. From there, the Beavers' core trio went to work and laid enough offense on the home team to take a multiple possession lead into the game's final two minutes. A big three-pointer from senior guard Nika Haleftiras (San Diego, Calif. / Our Lady of Peace) put the Beavers up by six points with just under three minutes to go. From there, junior guard Grace Peng (San Ramon, Calif. / California) knocked down a handful of free throws down the stretch to put a bow on the win.
"I may have felt a little pressure at the end," Peng said. "But we practice free throw shooting every day for a reason, so I just tried to keep my composure and my head clear."
Peng played the entire game and scored 24 points to go with four rebounds and three assists while totaling a 9-for-12 free throw shooting day. Haleftiras' scoring also proved necessary as the senior finished with 17 points, four assists, three rebounds and knocked down a trio of three-pointers.
Leading up to the game's final moments, senior center Elizabeth Eiden (White Plains, N.Y. / Holy Child) came through in a big way when her team needed her the most. Eiden finished the game with another 20-and-10 showing and became the program leader in single-season double-doubles, passing Rene Davis with her 12th game this season with at least 10 points and 10 rebounds. The senior made 9-of-12 field goal attempts over the game's final 20 minutes and is poised to build on her current records over the final stretch of the season, especially with the collective whole beginning to gel.
"It's great to see our team push through all the rough patches and get the win," Eiden said. "It's gratifying to see what we can accomplish as a team and it gives us confidence going into the rest of the season."
The Beavers played as efficiently as they have against a conference opponent all season, outshooting the Tigers by 10-percent from the field and by a whopping 25-percent from deep while doubling up the home team in the paint. Caltech's 12 turnovers are also a season-low against SCIAC competition this year. The Caltech defense held the Tigers under 20 points in each of the four quarters, putting together one of its most sound defensive games of the season. The defense had particularly come into its own in the past two years under Head Coach Bridgette Reyes. Caltech is in the midst of its winningest two-year stretch in program history and will now look to build on its SCIAC win total over the final six games of 2019.
"We have a special group and this win is a testament to how hard they're working and their ability to fight through adversity," Reyes said. "They continue to be patient and persistent in their journey towards excellence."
Reyes and the Beavers will be back on the road this Wednesday, Jan. 30 when they take on California Lutheran University at 7 p.m. in Thousand Oaks.