The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
For nearly three quarters of basketball, the electric energy at the College of San Mateo gym seemed to suggest the Lady Bulldogs were up for an upset of rival Skyline College.
Then the Lady Trojans caught fire.
After trailing by 5 near the end of the third quarter, the Skyline women’s basketball team (7-4 in Coast North, 15-11 overall) went on a 16-point run to upend its rival Bulldogs 77-58 Wednesday night at CSM. With the win, the Trojans clinch third place in the Coast Conference North, and are now all but assured of garnering an at-large big to their third consecutive Northern California postseason bracket.
“This win clinches third place for us in the Coast Conference, so we feel like we’re in,” Skyline head coach Chris Watters said. “We don’t get official word on it until Monday. I think something crazy would have to happen (to keep us out).”
Trojans guard Victoria Langi lit it up from beyond the 3-point arc. The sophomore knocked down eight treys in the game to finish with a team-high 26 points.
With the game already in pocket, Langi’s final 3 of the night was the prettiest — a high-arcing rainbow jumper that, by some miracle, didn’t subject San Mateo to yet another rainstorm. How much does Langi pride herself on those rainbow jumpers?
“A lot,” Langi said. “I practice that a lot and it finally happens.”
It was Langi’s penultimate 3 of the night, though, that put the Trojans on the comeback trail. With CSM sophomore forward Corryne Millet — a game-high 28 points and 11 rebounds — giving Skyline fits, the Trojans found themselves down 48-43 with two minutes remaining in the third period.
Langi, though, drained a 3 to close it to 48-46. It was a momentous shot that sent Skyline on the 16-point frenzy that carried into the fourth quarter. It was at that point Millet checked out for the final minute of the third quarter. In that minute, Skyline sophomore Arianna Sheehy followed with a 3 out of the corner to give her team a 49-48 lead, and Skyline rallied to finish the period leading 53-48.
“[Millet] is a really difficult match-up because she runs the floor as well as rebounds,” Watters said. “… We felt like as soon as they went to one big, we could go to four guards and take advantage of that. We feel like our guard play is a little bit stronger than theirs. But, gosh, having her off the court is nice.”
The first half was a story of what the boards did gaveth, the turnovers tooketh away for CSM (3-8, 10-16). The Bulldogs outrebounded Skyline 14-7 in the first quarter but CSM turned over the ball six times to Skyline’s three. The result was a 13-13 push going into the second quarter, but Millet put the Bulldogs in control early in the second quarter as the 6-foot-1 post presence converted back-to-back possessions on a pair of put-backs.
The Bulldogs led through most of the second quarter, but Langi’s 3-point marksmanship kept her team in the game. After CSM enjoyed its biggest lead of the half at 27-21, Skyline quickly closed the gap. A Langi trey closed it to 27-26. Then Skyline tied it with a minute to go before the half when sophomore Charme Noordzee scored off an assist by Sophia Faulusa to deadlock it at 31-31 before the break.
“We felt like we had to wear them down over the course of the game,” Watters said. “We ended up pulling away at the end of the third quarter … but it was really close at halftime. So, we knew they were going to battle and we just wanted to make sure we wore them down.”
Skyline also turned up the defensive intensity early in the second quarter and seemed to never let up. Freshman guard Kaimani Perez, at 5-feet tall, was in the grill of CSM’s guards all night long. The Bulldogs ultimately committed 20 turnovers to Skyline’s 16.
As impressive as her defense was, Perez also grabbed six rebounds.
“I’m a very small person,” Perez said. “They’re huge. It’s hard to battle with someone who’s that big. You just have to use your body and box out.”
Noordzee finished the game with 16 points and six rebounds. The only other player in the game to score in double digits was Elzy, who totaled 15 points despite incurring her third foul in the second quarter and playing in foul throughout.