Photo: Noelle Davis
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (Jan. 30, 2018) – The Caltech women's basketball dominated the glass and led for nearly the entire game at California Lutheran University en route to a 63-56 victory. Wednesday's game marks the first time the Beavers have taken down the Regals and stands out as another high-note in Caltech's record-setting season.
The Beavers jumped out to a 19-11 first-quarter lead and played the game's remaining 30 minutes without giving up the advantage. Caltech led host Cal Lutheran by as many as 15 at one point and utilized its dominance on the glass and high-percentage shot selection to dominate the ratios and keep its opponent at a constant distance. Senior center Elizabeth Eiden (White Plains, N.Y. / Holy Child) created matchup problems for the Regals all night but found herself at the center of her team's fast start, scoring nine of her 23 points in the first quarter. The senior also had 17 rebounds to secure her 13th double-double and add some cushion to her newest program record.
"It's given us a lot of confidence as a team, knowing that we can take on any challenge and succeed," Eiden said. "Tonight is just proof that we have a special group of people willing to do whatever it takes to win."
Eiden and the Beavers outrebounded the Regals, 43-31 while shooting 53.7-percent from the field. The senior was not the only Caltech player to hit double-digit rebounds. Classmate Madeline Schemel (Westport, Conn. / Staples) picked up 11 rebounds to go with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting. The performance will go down as one of the most efficient games of the forward's career and the 11 rebounds have Schemel just 10 boards away from hitting 500 on her career. Schemel entered Wednesday's game coming off nine and eight-rebound games respectively and is in the midst of one of the most productive stretches of her career.
"For me, confidence is all about getting into a rhythm and not being afraid of contact," Schemel said. "I try to use rebounding to help get myself involved in the game early because so much of it has to do with effort. If that happens, then all the other stuff just comes."
Junior guard and reigning SCIAC Offensive Player of the Week Grace Peng (San Ramon, Calif. / California) backed the Beavers with 16 points out of the starting point guard spot while also getting involved defensively with a pair of steals. Cal Lutheran crept back into the game late, trailing Caltech by just two points with 49 seconds to go in regulation. The Regals then sent senior Nika Haleftiras (San Diego, Calif. / Our Lady of Peace) to the line, where she made her first free throw and had the second shot picked up by Schemel, who took the ball straight in for a layup to make it a two-possession game. From that moment on, the Beavers held their opponents off the scoreboard and added an additional two points to secure the win.
Caltech has now won three games in a row for the first time this season and is in the midst of its most dominant stretch of games. Now with two SCIAC wins in hand, the Beavers have surpassed Occidental College in the SCIAC standings and will have the opportunity to continue their ascent up the standings in short order.
"Together, our team continued to execute on both ends of the floor," Head Coach Bridgette Reyes said. "The tremendous growth of our team was demonstrated not just by taking an early lead, but by containing and controlling the pace of the game to keep the lead. I'm so proud of our team for their energy, effort, and execution."
Reyes and the Beavers will look to make it three-in-a-row this weekend when they host Whittier College on Saturday, Feb. 2.