Play of Game: After great ball movement by Menlo, Lauren Adamek hits the bucket and gets fouled to put the semifinals on ice.
The Lady Oaks will be playing for a right to go to the NAIA National Tournament come Monday, thanks to a dominating 70-55 win over Simpson University in the Cal Pac Tournament semifinals. For most of the game Menlo was in complete control, and behind strong performances from Erika Garcia, Jolise Limcaco, and Laurel Donnenwirth, the Lady Oaks will take part in the Conference Tournament Championship Game, Monday night (Feb. 27) against Cal Maritime. Tipoff is slated for 7:30pm.
As far as tonight is concerned, a tight affair early saw the Lady Oaks trail 14-13 with 11:09 remaining in the first half. All indications appeared that the semifinal tilt had the potential to be a barnburner throughout, however Menlo had other ideas. The Lady Oaks ended the first stanza on an incredible 18-4 run, spurred on by stellar play from Limcaco who scored a half high 12 points to give Menlo a 31-18 lead into the intermission. Limcaco would conclude her playoff debut with 16 points, five boards, and six assists.
The second period began and it was time for a new hero to emerge. Insert freshman Laurel Donnenwirth who scored the first ten Oak points in the second half, keeping Menlo's double digit lead well intact. The native of Sacramento was held scoreless over the contest's first twenty minutes, but kicked it in to another level in the final stanza, ending the night with 13 points and ten rebounds for a double-double in her first collegiate playoff game.
The Lady Oaks shot an outstanding 50 percent from the floor in the second half, as they kept their double digit lead for most of the period. The Red Hawks, behind a strong showing from sophomore Kaila Smith, found a way to bring the game within eight points and four minutes to go, but ultimately it was Menlo's night. Smith finished her evening with a game high 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field, while knocking down 6-of-7 from the free throw line.
Erika Garcia led the Oaks with 17 on an impressive 8-of-11 shooting, scoring 15 of her points in the second period. After the game Garcia had a chance to reflect on what it means to get to the Cal Pac Tournament title game. "We are just taking it one game at a time, we are not trying to get ahead of ourselves," remarked Garcia. "It is a big game, but it still is another game, and another step to where we want to be."