The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
Those who seem to think that experience matters little in a playoff environment need only look at last night’s affair between the College of San Mateo women’s basketball team and Sacramento City College.
Having battled all night and flung into an overtime period, the Bulldogs (11-15) found themselves tied at 53 with 3:21 left in the game.
It was in that 3:21 though where San Mateo showed their youth, turning the ball over four times and failing to capitalize on some spotty free-throw shooting by the Panthers (13-14). As it stood, the visitors from the Big 8 conference pushed ahead and won 58-53, thus ending the season for the Bulldogs.
It was a disappointing end to the year considering that the Bulldogs battled so hard to even get into these playoffs, winning 4 of 6 down the stretch and giving division-leading Foothill all they could handle in the regular-season finale.
“They (Sacramento City) did a good job, you have to give it to them,” said CSM coach Michelle Warner. “They played really physical, pressure defense, I’m sure they out-rebounded us. But, we had some looks, we just didn’t hit them. We missed at least five to 10 layups on the inside and it’s the first time in the playoffs for a lot of them, so it’s nerves and the excitement at home. But not to take anything away from Sac City, they did a good job.”
The Panthers battled the entire night, overcoming deficits of seven points twice by forcing the issue with their pressure defense. The Bulldogs committed 25 turnovers in regulation in response to that defense, and saw their respectable 33 percent shooting in the first half drop to 19 percent in the second. After struggling from the floor in the first, Sac City found a bit of range, shooting 37 percent in the game’s latter half.
CSM led by one at the break, 27-26, behind a 10-point, six-rebound half by Trish Malaspina. Coming in, the Bulldogs’ focus was on containing Sac City’s trio of scorers in Collette Eugene, Nikkia Davis and Treshenia Solomon, who all came into the contest averaging double-figure points for the season.
CSM had no legitimate answer for Solomon, the Panthers’ big offensive presence in the interior, who was 4 for 6 from the floor in the half. Davis and Eugene, however, were held in check for the majority of the game.
The Bulldogs looked like they would take control to start the second half by going on a mini-spurt that raised their lead to six with 13:18 left in the game.
But the Panthers, who shot 27 percent in the first half and were 1 of 10 from 3-point land, could suddenly shoot. Mercedes Dobson, who came into the game averaging 4.5 points per game, doubled that total on her first three shots of the half, all 3-pointers — her third gave the Panthers a 43-40 lead with under 10 minutes to play in the second half.
But the Bulldogs responded with an 11-2 run that had them up 51-45 with 3:31 left in regulation.
Things fell apart from there for CSM. They’d be outscored 13-2 the rest of the way, showing their youth by being careless with the basketball.The Bulldogs were 1 of 5 shooting in the overtime period.
“I’m just so proud of our team because every game they’re trying to get better at something, trying to execute and we understand the game plan,” Warner said. “I’m just really proud. They all work, they all want it, they all have a piece of the team. They do well and together they play well. Our shots just weren’t falling tonight, you know? ome days it’s there, some days it’s not.”
Malaspina capped a great CSM career with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Kimmie Fung added eight rebounds of her own while scoring eight points. LeShay Wallace was in double figures for the Bulldogs. She scored 10 points.
The Panthers were led by Davis and her 14 points.