By: Brian Brownfield
ATHERTON, Calif. – It was the first game in 2017 for Menlo College Women's Basketball, and a return to Golden State Athletic Conference action. After dropping its conference opener in December, Menlo had its sights set on beginning a revenge tour throughout the conference. Those plans will have to be put on hold after a back and forth contest against William Jessup University went in favor of the visitors. Menlo trailed for a majority of the game before pulling ahead late in the fourth quarter. A couple of dagger three-pointers for the Warriors quickly squashed any hope Menlo had of a victory, and the Warriors secured the 82-74 win. The win brings William Jessup to 7-3 on the year and 1-1 in conference play while the Oaks drop to 9-5 and are winless in two conference games.
Menlo got the first point of the game on an Aliyah Brantley free throw but would not trail again in the entire first half. This does not mean the game was lopsided by any means, as the Warriors largest lead of the half came at the intermission. It was not hard to figure out why Menlo trailed for almost the entire duration of the half: Menlo shot 40% from the field while the Warriors shot 56.5%. The biggest performance of the first twenty minutes came from Brantley, who had 6-8 shooting for 15 points. Kelsey McKeon also pitched in a solid half with 7 points and 3 rebounds but no one else stood out for the Oaks. Going against the stat sheet, William Jessup shot 55.6% from downtown, only contributing to the early demise for the Oaks and a 41-33 halftime deficit.
Things turned in a hurry for the Oaks in the second half. By the end of the third quarter, Menlo outscored the Warriors by seven and made it a one point game. They had to do so without Brantley and Celina Pagan, both sidelined early in the quarter with four fouls apiece. Madison Rocha stepped in her place and got eight points filling in, while Ashlyn Monk caught fire, knocking down a pair of threes to get Menlo their first lead of the game to open up the fourth. Things stayed even for most of the fourth quarter, and Menlo even pulled ahead by as many as three points after Rocha drained a three midway through the fourth. It would be the last time Menlo led by as many points. Kelsey McKeon hit a jumper that put Menlo up 68-67 with 2:29 to go, but that's when the Warriors kicked it into gear. An 11-0 run ensued in the next two minutes of play, and after the Oaks could catch their breath, they were down by ten. Even though the final score indicates otherwise, this game was back and forth throughout.
Brantley wound up leading Menlo scorers with 19 points, though just 4 of those came in the second half. McKeon added 15 points and a trio of Oaks recorded 8: Monk, Rocha, and Alexis Delovio. The difference in the game came at the free throw line, where Menlo hit 12 shots but the Warriors hit 21. This came as a result of Menlo fouling William Jessup six more times.
Things don't get much easier for Menlo as they finish off a three-game home stand with two more tough GSAC opponents. A pair of ranked teams make their way to Haynes-Prim Pavilion, starting with Saturday's matinee against #6 Vanguard. Tip-off is slated for 2:00 PM before the Men's game gets under way at 4:00 PM.