ATHERTON, Calif. – There hasn't been many home games inside Haynes-Prim Pavilion for Menlo College Women's Basketball, so it was a relief to begin the two-game home stand on Thursday night. An important game was at hand for Menlo and San Diego Christian, battling it out for what could be the sixth seed in the GSAC playoffs. Entering the night, the Hawks were the sixth seed at 4-8 in conference, where the top six teams qualify for the playoffs. Menlo sat just one game behind at 2-8, so a win would pull them even for that final playoff spot. The Oaks dug themselves into an early hole midway through the third quarter, and almost heroically climbed out of it. It was not enough to completely erase the deficit, and Menlo fell to the Hawks 71-66.
San Diego Christian set the pace early in this game, dominating the first two quarters of play. Menlo was able to take some momentum away from the Hawks at the end of the first quarter, getting the final two buckets to make it a 20-17 game after ten minutes. The second quarter featured a much wider deficit, with the Hawks lighting up the scoreboard for 25 points while Menlo could only put up 11. The numbers in the first half were just as startling: San Diego Christian shot 55.6% from the field while Menlo only made nine shots en route to 36% shooting. There were also ten Oaks turnovers while the Hawks turned the ball over just five times. Menlo did not have a single shooter at over 50% in the first half, and several shooters were held in check with just one basket in the opening half. They needed a shot in the arm desperately, and they certainly got that in the second half.
The 45-28 deficit actually ballooned up to 19 points midway through the third, with 2:56 left in that quarter. With the lead at 57-48, it seemed as if the Hawks would coast to victory and all but bury any chances Menlo had at the playoffs. Menlo sensed this and began to take advantage, closing the quarter on an 8-2 run to make it a 13-point game entering the fourth quarter. If you thought the 8-2 run was impressive, Menlo opened the fourth quarter on a 12-2 run, culminating with an Aliyah Brantley layup to make it 61-58 with 3:47 left in regulation. Menlo could never make the game closer than three points, getting to that point three other times in the final three minutes of the game. With just fifteen seconds left, Alexis Delovio hit a couple of free throws to make it a three-point game once again, but there was not enough time left to complete the comeback. After two more free throws for the Hawks, they iced out the 71-66 victory over the Oaks.
Two Menlo players had big nights, the aforementioned Brantley and Delovio. Brantley led all scorers in the game with 22 points on 8-15 shooting, continuing a trend she has been setting lately. Delovio checked in second on the Menlo side with 17 points, and an impressive 11 of those came from the free throw line. Breanna Turner also added 8 points while Celina Pagan and Kelsey McKeon added in 6 apiece.
Menlo wraps up the two-game home stand on Saturday against #21 Biola University, the last time the two teams will meet in the regular season. Tip-off is set for 2:00 PM and will be followed by the Men's game.