La Verne played a tight defensive game Saturday at Claremont Mudd-Scripps. The Leopards led the game by 14 points until the Athenas came back in the second half. La Verne’s defense stood strong and they held on for an 82-77 win.
Senior guard Amanda Copas scored nine points for the Leopards and was fouled four times.
La Verne and CMS played a chippy game, which resulted in the referees calling a total of 53 fouls, most were against the Leopards.
“We play tough,” La Verne head coach Matt Rogers said. “All of our steals throw the officials off and the fouls are just the product of how we play.”
The Leopards had 14 steals throughout the game. La Verne’s tough play caused a majority of the fouls to be called against them.
“The fouls aren’t good for our momentum because it slows us down,” Copas said. “We’ve gone through some lulls, but we’re coming out stronger.”
Sophomore guard Riki Murakami went down on an apparent knee injury. She was off the floor for several minutes, but would eventually return.
At the end of the first half the Leopards led 40-26, and they came back ready to play hard and finish the game.
When CMS junior guard Kyra Ray started the second half with a steal, the fire was lit. Both teams started working harder.
With Murakami back in the game, the Leopards decided it was time to get tougher. La Verne junior guard Megan Musashi came up with a quick steal and a three pointer, giving the Leopards a 47-28 lead.
The Athenas answered back with a three pointer of their own with 15:34 left in the game. The game went back and forth, each team hoping to hold the other off while trying to rack up more points.
After CMS junior guard Aria Krumwiede was fouled and made both free throws, La Verne senior center Tyne McClure charged the ball all the way down the court for a layup, giving the Leopards a nine point lead, 72-63.
As the clock wound down, the team continued to exchange baskets.
With 2:14 left in the game, Leopard freshman center Emily Myers scored a basket, giving La Verne a 76-69 lead.
With 23 seconds remaining, Murakami passed the ball across the court to teammate Copas.
Copas and CMS junior guard Shelby Barthold collided, and Copas was given the foul.
This gave the Athenas a chance to catch up. Barthold came through and made both free throws, cutting the Leopard lead to one, 78-77.
With 1.2 seconds remaining in the game, Musashi was fouled. She made both free throws, securing the win for La Verne.
At press time, the Leopards had a record of 9-4 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and were 12-10 overall.
The Leopards feel they have made major improvements from last season, in which they ended with an 8-17 record.
“This year is better,” Murakami said. “Our chemistry and talent is better.”
La Verne hosts Cal Lutheran at 5 p.m. tomorrow at Frantz Athletic Court.
Sydney Daly-Weber can be reached at email@example.com.