El Cajon, CA (Women’s Basketball) -- The Citrus College Women’s Basketball team came just two points shy of winning their first tournament championship in quite some time. The Owls doomed themselves with a slow start in the first half, and then a key mistake in the final seconds in their 52-50 loss to Antelope Valley.
The aforementioned slow start saw Antelope Valley score the first 18 points of the game. In the first 12 minutes of the contest, Citrus committed nine turnovers and missed their first 15 attempts from the field. The Owls finally broke that tough stretch up when an offensive rebound and follow-up by freshman Kenya Thomas made the score 18-2 with 7:32 left in the first half.
That was all the spark Citrus needed as they finally began to put the ball in the basket. Over the final seven minutes, the Owls outscored Antelope Valley 12-8, and went into the break down just eight points 26-14 after the disastrous start. In the first half Citrus was just 4 of 31 (12.9%) from the field and 0 for 6 from beyond the 3-point arc. That’s in comparison to the Marauders who shot 40% from the field in that same span.
In the second half Citrus began to turn the tables on Antelope Valley, using an 11-0 run to open the half. The Owls kick started the new period with a three by sophomore Julia Tani and capped it off by another Tani trey that put Citrus up 28-26 with 16:33 left in the contest.
From that point forward it was a back and forth affair as the lead switched hands nine more times and was tied up on six different occasions. Citrus’ last lead of the half would come with 2:15 left in the game when sophomore Brianna Barfield hit a jumper in the paint that put Citrus up 46-45. The Marauders would take the lead back on their next possession and hang on to that lead all the way through the one minute mark.
Barfield would tie the game back up with 33 seconds left with another basket in the paint that made it 50-50. On Antelope Valley’s next possession, the Owls forced the Marauders into a turnover and got the ball back with 22 seconds to play. Citrus made their move with nine seconds left as Barfield tried to give the Owls the lead. The attempt missed, but sophomore Jasmine Cox would come up with the offensive rebound.
Fouled on the put back attempt, Cox would be sent to the line for two shots. Unfortunately though Cox missed both and Antelope Valley came up with the rebound with six seconds to go. After a timeout, Antelope Valley went for the game winner and was fouled on their shot, a big mistake for Citrus. The Marauders’ Malika Jackson hit both free-throws with one second left to give Antelope Valley the win.
In the loss, Citrus was led by Barfield who scored a team high 14 points and handed out four assists. Tani added 12 points, while Cox ripped down a team high 10 boards. Freshman Alexis Arnold contributed seven boards, and All-Tournament honoree Thomas scored eight points and posted six rebounds.
With the loss, Citrus falls to 11-4 as their 2011-2012 pre-conference schedule comes to a close. Despite going out on a sour note, it is the best pre-conference start for a Citrus College Women’s Basketball team in recent memory. The Owls will begin Western State Conference South Division play on Wednesday January 4th when they hit the road to take on Glendale College. Tip-off is set for 5:00 PM.