PASADENA, Calif. (Dec. 3, 2017) – Sophomore guard Grace Peng (San Ramon, Calif. / California) and the Caltech women's basketball team's strong first half enabled the Beavers to play a competitive four quarters with visiting Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Saturday afternoon. The Athenas are the defending SCIAC champions four years running and have won every postseason tournament dating back to its inception three years ago.
Sharp shooting from Peng, along with junior guard Nika Haleftiras (San Diego, Calif. / Our Lady of Peace) staked the Beavers to an early lead. The duo came out firing and shot just over 55 percent from the field in the first-half (15-for-27) and held a 21-17 lead over the Athenas at the first quarter's conclusion. Both players found a groove from beyond the arc, as Peng connected on three of six three-point attempts while Haleftiras made two of her three attempts. Peng finished the game with 13 points to lead all Beavers while Haleftiras scored 12 points. Sophomore guard Samantha D'Costa (San Jose, Calif. / St. Francis) and junior center Elizabeth Eiden (White Plains, N.Y. / Holy Child) turned it on in the second half and rounded out a group of four Beavers to reach double-figures against the SCIAC's preseason No. 1 team. Another early key for the Beavers proved to be denying the Athenas shot opportunities entirely. Four of Caltech's nine team blocks came in the first quarter and Eiden, the SCIAC block leader from the previous season finished the game with four all on her own.
The Athenas eventually fought their way back into the game, utilizing their size, athleticism and experience but the Beavers refused to fade completely. Caltech turned up the full-court press in the fourth quarter and found success by generating eight team steals in the fourth quarter alone. Even in defeat, the Beavers acquitted themselves well and finished the game having outshot the Athenas at a near three-percent clip.
Head Coach Bridgette Reyes and the Beavers will return next Saturday, Dec. 9 when they host NAIA outfit Master's University at 2:00 p.m.