PASADENA (Feb. 13, 2019) – The Caltech women's basketball team endured a physical battle but came away with its fourth SCIAC victory of the season against visiting University of La Verne on Wednesday evening. The four conference wins have surpassed last year's total and 2018-19 will go down as the team's most successful season against conference competition.
The Beavers defeated the Leopards, 59-53, and led from start to finish despite some stiff opposition from the Leopards over the game's final half. A perfect shooting game from senior center Elizabeth Eiden (White Plains, N.Y. / Holy Child) helped get the home team over the top. Eiden picked up her 11th 20-point game of the season and did so utilizing her toughness inside in addition to her mid-range jumper from the elbow, one of the most significant new wrinkles the senior added to her arsenal over the last two years. Caltech's starting center also played an instrumental role down the stretch, knocking down all four of her free throws around the one-minute mark to keep her team at a three-possession distance. With La Verne trailing by five with 20 seconds to go, Eiden made a key block on the Leopards' leading scorer, then did so again just seconds later to return possession to her team, allowing sophomore Lauren Suezaki (San Ramon, Calif. / California) to hit a pair of free throws to put Caltech back up by seven points with 16 seconds to go in regulation.
"Coach had been emphasizing how much I needed to be in on the help side all night," Eiden said. "Their shooter had a pretty successful game, so I knew I had to get there to contest her shot."
Junior guard Grace Peng put forth another strong performance of her own, contributing to the Beavers' victory in a variety of ways. Peng scored 15 points, but also led Caltech with eight rebounds and five assists while turning the ball over on just two occasions. Peng's role as a facilitator proved a be a boon for the Caltech offense, as three of her assists came on easy baskets for Eiden while the other two happened on successful three-point baskets for senior guard Nika Haleftiras (San Diego, Calif. / Our Lady of Peace), who finished the game with 10 points in all. Senior forward Madeline Schemel (Westport, Conn. / Staples), like Peng found multiple ways to contribute with six points, seven rebounds and four assists, including successful passes on the Beavers' first three baskets.
"Everyone has an important role on this team," Peng said. "When they do their jobs like tonight, it makes it easier for me to focus on doing what I do best and contributing whatever the team needs from me."
The Beavers are now 3-1 against the quick-paced Leopards under Head Coach Bridgette Reyes. While both teams had evenly matched games in terms of the turnover battle, Caltech made the most of its opportunities with 13 points off turnovers while outshooting La Verne at the free throw line by nearly 25-percent. The Beavers led by as many as 10 points late in the third quarter and started hot with a 19-12 first quarter that saw the home team begin the game with two quick baskets. Caltech has gotten more comfortable playing in all four quarters this year, and Wednesday's game marks the first time this season the Beavers have led from coast-to-coast in a SCIAC win.
"This win feels great for our team," Reyes said. "I think our squad has proved that they can compete in this league. They have continued to strive for more and give everything they have, for this school and for each other."
Reyes and the Beavers will prep for their final game of the season -- a Senior Day clash with the University of Redlands on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 5 p.m.