photo by Mike Daly
REDDING, Calif. – The Shasta College women's basketball team lost 79-74 to Mission College of Santa Clara Wednesday night in a California Community College Athletic Association Northern California Regional playoff game to end the season.
The 15th-seeded Knights, who went to the state playoffs for the second straight year, cut a 14-point deficit late in the third quarter down to three midway through the fourth. Despite multiple chances to trim it to one or tie it, that would be as close as Shasta could get.
"What gave us a chance to win this game until the end when we had to foul was their teamwork, their toughness and their willingness to not give up," Shasta College head coach Jerry Brown said. "They didn't give up until there was no more fight left to have."
Justyse Cooper led the way with 20 points and 17 rebounds as the Knights leaned on her early on to keep pace with one of the top scoring teams in the state. Mari Fernandez added 17 points and eight rebounds, Keeley Tuggle had 14 points and six boards and Jordan Martinez contributed 13 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
The Knights trailed 29-20 after the opening quarter and kept it close at 44-37 at half despite Mission launching 3-pointers throughout the first half, connecting on nine of them. Mission's hot start continued out of half with four 3s in the first four minutes and the Saints stretched their lead to 14 late in the third.
But Shasta wasn't ready to quit just yet.
Martinez and Fernandez each hit a 3 to highlight an 8-0 Shasta run to make it 63-57 entering the final period. Shasta kept pushing, needing to catch the hot-shooting Saints. Tuggle scored in transition and Cooper cleaned up the glass with a putback to make it a one possession game, the closest it had been since the 2:18 mark in the opening period.
Mission kept pace with another 3, a layup and a free throw and the Knights turned the ball over, which led to another layup in transition. Martinez's 3 made it 76-71, Mission made 2 of 4 free throws and Tuggle knocked down a triple to cut it to a four-point game with 14 seconds remaining. But the comeback fell just a little short.
"I'm so proud of these girls and the way they did it without there being an individual," Brown said. "They all played as a team, hard on defense, just worked and didn't care about who was scoring and just shared the ball."
Cooper, Kayla Bonomini and Martinez were all named to the all-Golden Valley Conference team while Fernandez was an honorable mention selection. Shasta finished 7-3 in GVC play, good enough for second place.
Cooper averaged 12.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game for the Knights. She recorded five double-doubles in 10 conference games.
Bonomini scored a team-high 14.8 points as the Knights' leading scorer with 371 points and 74 3-pointers.
Martinez averaged 10.5 points, a team-high 6.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. She finishes ranked fifth in the state with 169 assists.
Fernandez scored 13.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.9 steals per game for the Knights. She led the team in steals with 48.