By Ryan Craighead and Caleb Ellis
The LBCC women’s basketball team fell to top-ranked Mt. San Antonio College, 74-59, in the third round of the women’s basketball So Cal regional playoffs Wednesday, March 6.
Scoring was an issue for the Vikings the first half, being held to only 15 points, converting 20 percent from the field. Mt. Sac shot 54 percent en route to a 24-point half-time lead.
Sophomore Talia Rayford, starting forward for the Vikings, said, “We didn’t play like LBCC in the first half.”
Rayford played 38 minutes, tallying 10 points and a team-leading 13 rebounds.
“I’m a sophomore, so this was my last game as a Viking,” Rayford said. “I’m bummed to end our season this way. I’m (emotionally) hurt. You’re always a little hurt when you lose.”
Mt. SAC extended its season-long win streak to 31 games using the strong post presence of freshman forward Shawlina Segovia who scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
So Cal player of the year and first team all-state sophomore guard Morgan Mason added 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists despite only playing 26 of 40 minutes.
Mt. SAC coach Brian Crichlow said, “The first half was great, but we got away from our game plan in the second (half). We did some gambling on defense.”
LBCC opened the second half on a 13-2 run and closed the deficit to within 9 points with five minutes left, using a fast-paced, helter-skelter style play and improved shooting percentage to close the gap. Despite the surge, Mt. SAC’s balanced attack proved too much for the Vikings to overcome.
Viking coach Michael Anderson said, “They’re a championship program that’s been here before. This is our first trip. We’ll be back.”
Viking sophomore forward Kaaron King, said, “We finally started finishing in the second half.” King’s physical style got her into foul trouble, picking up three in the first half.
“The fouls affected my aggressiveness. I had to be careful to stay in the game,” King said.
King’s older sister, Krystal, observed her from the stands. “I’ve been watching her (Kaaron King) play every game since she started,” Krystal said. “They’ve had a great season, but all the other games don’t matter if they don’t beat Mt. SAC.”
The Vikings ended their season with an overall 24-5 record, tying the school record for most wins. The Vikings’ last win came during the second round of the playoffs, defeating Canyons College 75-41 on Friday, March 1.
Interim assistant athletic director Teila Robertson traveled to Mt. SAC and cheered from start to finish for the Vikings’ team.
“The women did amazing,” Robertson said. “I couldn’t be prouder of all of them.”