The California Pacific Conference campaign gets into full swing this weekend as all conference teams will go head-to-head for the first time this season. Benedictine-Mesa and Antelope Valley sit atop the Cal Pac standings without a loss in league action. The rest of the conference will join the journey for one of the four postseason berths, with UC Merced, Simpson, Embry-Riddle, and La Sierra poised to provide the biggest challenges. Cal Maritime and Pacific Union, both capable of upsetting any of the teams in the conference, will have to improve on their preseason marks.
Tuesday, December 20
UC MERCED 90, BETHESDA 75: The Bobcats walked away with a comfortable victory over the Flames in Merced, Calif. With the victory, UCM earned its second straight win over the Flames, third straight win overall, and first home victory of the season. The Bobcats, now 5-6 on the season, roared out to a 7-0 lead and never looked back, taking a 50-28 lead into halftime on their way to the runaway victory. Mia Belvin was the catalyst for UCM in the first half, ending the first 20 minutes with 17 points and finishing the game with a team and career-high 24 on 8-of-11 shooting. Courtney Danna finished with 16 points, five rebounds, and a game-high eight assists. Christina Castro poured in 12 points, collected eight rebounds, and picked up three steals off the bench. The duo of Brittany Martinez and Danielle Ward combined to dominate the paint, scoring nine points, pulling down 15 rebounds, and blocking four shots.
(RV) SAN DIEGO CHRISTIAN 81, LA SIERRA 79 (OT): The Hawks barely held off a relentless Golden Eagle squad in Riverside, Calif. Up 20 points heading into the fourth quarter, SDCC all but wrapped up their eleventh win of the season, but a fierce rally from LSU forced overtime. The Golden Eagles gained their first lead in the game as they erased the deficit with a 9-2 run in the opening quarter, but the Hawks would come back to take a five-point advantage into the second quarter. LSU again went on a run to erase an SDCC lead when an Amanda Sanchez jumper tied the score at 27-27. SDCC took control and rebuilt a 10-point lead at the break. SDCC erupted in the third, outscoring LSU 27-17 taking their 20-point lead into the fourth quarter. The Hawks were up 72-56, but LSU would allow them to score only one point over the last five minutes, and the Golden Eagles forced six turnovers and pulled within one point with 22 seconds left. SDCC's Anessa Wolfblack was fouled with nine seconds left but hit only one of two free throws, and an Alexis Davis jumper with two seconds left capped a giant comeback and forced overtime. The momentum carried into the extra period as LSU scored the first four points. Davis hit a shot 15 seconds later giving the Golden Eagles another 3-point lead with 1:04 left, but two SDCC free throws and a crucial 3-pointer with 13 seconds left sealed the win for the Hawks. The Golden Eagles had three tries in the final seconds to force another OT period but all three attempts missed the mark. Celina Calderon led LSU with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including both of her 3-point attempts. She also added six steals in the contest. Mikayla Stitt added 12 points and 11 rebounds while Davis finished with another double-double, totaling 12 points and 10 boards. Sanchez chipped in 12 points as well for the Golden Eagles, now 4-9 on the season.
DORDT 74, CAL MARITIME 45: The Defenders rolled past the Keelhaulers in a non-conference matchup in Vallejo, Calif. Dordt jumped out to a 26-8 lead after one quarter and never looked back, dropping CSUM's season mark to 1-12. Amber Herrly led the Keelhaulers with 15 points
Wednesday, December 28
BENEDICTINE-MESA 88, CONCORDIA (ILL.) 86: The Redhawks went back and forth with the Cougars before eventually finishing on top in first round action of the ACU Holiday Classic in Phoenix, Ariz. BenU scored the last five points in the final minute to come back and beat the Cougars. The Redhawks 88-86 started the final quarter with a three-point lead that CU quickly erased, but BenU took it right back and went up by as many as nine on an Alexis Todd jumper with 6:42 remaining. The Cougars were not done, though, storming all the way back and taking a three-point lead with 46 seconds to go. The Redhawks tied the game on a Todd three-pointer with 22 seconds to go and then took the lead on a Felicia Foster jumper with three seconds remaining. CU got off two shots on its last possession, one but both attempts were off the mark and the Redhawks walked out with their third victory in a row. Todd dropped in 23 points to lead five Redhawks in double figures. Erica Vasquez scored 19, Foster poured in 15, Kimberly Wimbish totaled 11, and Julia Cooper recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Thursday, December 29
SIMPSON 66, PACIFIC 60: In the first of back-to-back games, the Red Hawks downed the Boxers in Redding, Calif. SU began the night with a 9-0 run and led most of the game, but trailed by seven with five minutes left in the contest. Whitney Rodriguez connected on a pair of free throws, and Esther Wofford followed by a 3-point play to make it a one-possession game. SU received huge threes from Imani Joseph and Fallon Greenhaw down the stretch, propelling the Red Hawks to a 7-10 overall record. Wofford finished with a team-high 19 points, and Rodriguez tallied 10 points in just 13 minutes.
MAYVILLE STATE 67, CAL MARITIME 54: The Comets topped the Keelhaulers on the first day of the Peninsula Classic in Atherton, Calif. MSU used a 21-10 third quarter to open up the game and then held off CSUM's run in the final period to gain the victory. Amber Herrly tossed in a game-high 24 points for the Keelhaulers, draining 6-of-13 from beyond the arc. Nancy Clark added 11 points for CSUM, now 1-13 on the season.
MOUNT VERNON NAZARENE 77, BENEDICTINE-MESA 29: The Redhawks had a rough go of it against the Cougars on the second day of the ACU Holiday Classic in Phoenix, Ariz. BenU was in the game after the first quarter, trailing just 15-11, but MVNU pulled away from there as the Redhawks scored only 18 more points the rest of the game. Erica Vasquez led BenU with six points, and the Redhawks fell to 8-6 on the season.
No. 25 CARROLL 47, EMBRY-RIDDLE 42: The Saints topped the Eagles in their opening game of the ACU Holiday Classic in Phoenix, Ariz. ERAU kept the game close, but a rough second quarter proved to be too much of a deficit to overcome. Kylee Reibel had 10 points for the Eagles, now 6-7 on the season.
Friday, December 30
SIMPSON 63, PACIFIC 58: The Red Hawks completed the two-game season sweep of the NCAA DIII Boxers, this time in Redding, Calif. With the victory, SU improves to 8-10 on the season. The Red Hawks received a career day from Alex Cooper, who finished with 12 points, hitting all five of her shots from the floor. Esther Wofford and Whitney Rodriguez also in reached double figures for the Red Hawks, totaling 14 and 13 points, respectively.
UC MERCED 76, FRESNO PACIFIC 64: The Bobcats used a strong first half effort to earn a road victory over the NCAA Division II Sunbirds in Fresno, Calif. At the half the Bobcats led 39-26 and led by as many as 17 during the second half to move to 6-6 on the season. The Bobcats had four players in double figures with Christina Castro and Mia Belvin totaling 19 and 18 points, respectively. Castro contributed four assists, one block, and a steal, while Belvin added five assists and three steals. Brittany Martinez contributed 16 points, and Courtney Danna posted her first double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds, as well as adding four assists.
EMBRY-RIDDLE 66, ARIZONA CHRISTIAN 55: The Eagles ended 2016 with a bang by downing the host Firestorm in second round of the ACU Holiday Classic in Phoenix, Ariz. ERAU posted a thrilling come-from-behind victory over its in-state rival after ACU built a 25-18 halftime lead. But the Eagles made a strong push in the third quarter, led by Melissa Pfeifer, who was 5-for-6 from the field for 11 points, to bring the Eagles within two points at 44-42. ERAU's momentum carried into the fourth quarter as the Eagles outscored ACU 24-11 to cruise to the win.
No. 22 OLIVET NAZARENE 138, CAL MARITIME 85: The Tigers put on an offensive display in routing the Keelhaulers in the second round of the Peninsula Classic in Atherton, Calif. ONU shot 52 percent from the floor and dominated the boards en route to the victory. Nancy Clark topped the CSUM scorers with a season-high 21 points, connecting on 9-of-15 shots, and grabbing nine rebounds. Lillian Dawkins added 12 points, and Samantha Flores chipped in 10 for the Keelhaulers, who fall to 1-14 on the season.