Playing under a new format—but with the same mantra: win or go home—the California Pacific Conference women's basketball championship tournament will get underway March 1 with four teams vying to keep their seasons alive for at least one more game.
Menlo, La Sierra, William Jessup, and Simpson meet at Menlo College for the semifinal round this Saturday to play for the opportunity to extend the season to Monday's championship game. For the first time in almost a decade, the tournament will be held at one location instead of the higher seeded team hosting the game. In recent years, all teams advanced to the conference tournament, but this year the Cal Pac has gone to a uniform format for all its sports where the championship tournaments are pared down to a final four with all games played at one predetermined site.
Menlo earned the top seed by sweeping all 12 of its Cal Pac games, finishing with at 23-5 overall. The Lady Oaks square off with #4 Simpson (6-6 in the Cal Pac, 12-17 overall) in the 6:00 game on March 1. In the nightcap, #3 William Jessup (8-4, 13-14) takes on #2 William Jessup (8-4, 14-14) at 8:00.
The winners of the two games will play at 6:00 on Monday, March 3, with the winner earning the right to play in the national tournament, which begins March 12-13 at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
For all information regarding the Cal Pac Championships, go to California Pacific Conference Championship Tournament.
California Pacific Conference Championship Tournament
Saturday, March 1, 2014
6:00 #4 Simpson vs. #1 Menlo
8:00 #3 William Jessup vs. #2 La Sierra
Monday, March 3, 2014
6:00 Championship Game
Led by a trio of outstanding players, Menlo has dominated the competition and leads the conference in almost every offensive and defensive category. Jolise Limcaco leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.5 points per outing, and triggers the potent offense with a conference-best 5.9 assists per game. Laurel Donnenwirth averages a double-double every time she steps on the court, dropping 14.4 points and grabbing 10.3 rebounds, the latter the best in the Cal Pac. The third standout is Vanessa D'Amico, who is averaging 13.4 points per game. D'Amico is 10th in the country in total 3-point field goals made (80) and 18th in 3-point field goals made per game (2.9).
Simpson earned big Cal Pac wins over William Jessup—in overtime—and UC Merced to claim the final playoff slot. Nichole Jones has led the charge, averaging 13.5 points per game to lead her team. She not only provided the Red Hawks with steady scoring, she is second on the team in rebounding, pulling down 4.2 per contest. Jones does the most damage on the defensive, as evidenced by her 2.72 steals per game, giving her the second best average in the conference. The rest of the offense has been very balanced with Esther Wofford (9.2 points per game) and Tiffany Aaserude (8.6) providing scoring from the perimeter. Madison Cox has emerged as a force in the paint, with her scoring (5.6) and rebounding (5.6) increasing late in the season.
MENLO Team Leader SIMPSON
Jolise Limcaco (15.5) Points per game Nichole Jones (13.5)
Laurel Donnenwirth (10.3) Rebounds per game Madison Cox (5.6)
Jolise Limcaco (5.9) Assists per game Kaity Hahn (2.2)
Laurel Donnenwirth (50%) Feld goal percentage Nichole Jones (46%)
Vanessa D'Amico (41%) 3-point percentage Nichole Jones (29%)
Vanessa D'Amico (90%) Free throw percentage Karley Menez (81%)
Previous meetings this season:
January 9, 2014 (at Simpson): Menlo 82, Simpson 60
February 1, 2014 (at Menlo): Menlo 75, Simpson 59
#2 LA SIERRA
The Golden Eagles have a trio of prolific scorers, led by the Cal Pac's leading scorer, Natalia Hawthorne. Hawthorne, who has scored 30 or more points in a game twice this season, averages 18.6 points per game and is doing it by ranking among the league's leaders in field goal percentage (35.7%). She is also second in the conference in steals per game (2.8), and she ranks 12th in the country in total steals (72). Joirdan Jones is another player capable of putting up points, as she did when she finished with 33 in a home victory three weeks ago, and is scoring at an 11.9 clip. Shelby Madigan is also averaging double figures for the Golden Eagles at 11.1 points per game. Madigan and Victoria Lowe 7.1 and 7.3 rebounds a game, respectively, placing them both in the top five in the Cal Pac.
#3 WILLIAM JESSUP
The Warriors have a threesome that can compete with any team in the conference, led by one of the Cal Pac's top all-around performers, Ashley Rose. Rose triggers an offense that is second in the league in scoring (66.9 points per game) and anchors the second rated defense (66.2 points per game). She is second in the Cal Pac in scoring (18.4), second in field goal percentage (42.1%), third in steals (2.4), and third in assists (3.7). Rose has plenty of help around her, beginning with Sarah Petersen, who averages 14 points per game and 10 rebounds per contest. Nicole McDonald is another offensive threat, pouring in 11.5 points per game, but a number of other players have shown they can step up the offensive output when needed: Amanda Young and Taylor Borba both average 6.9 points per game, and Alexandria Westbrook is at 5.7.
LA SIERRA Team Leader WILLIAM JESSUP
Natalia Hawthorne (18.6) Points per game Ashley Rose (18.3)
Victoria Lowe (7.3) Rebounds per game Sarah Petersen (10.1)
Joirdan Jones (2.5) Assists per game Ashley Rose (3.7)
Brittani Walker (38%) Feld goal percentage Sarah Petersen (44%)
Natalia Hawthorne (34%) 3-point percentage Sarah Petersen (42%)
Natalia Hawthorne (81%) Free throw percentage Ashley Rose (78%)
Previous meetings this season:
January 18, 2014 (at La Sierra): La Sierra 56, William Jessup 44
February 6, 2014 (at William Jessup): William Jessup 80, La Sierra 69