Dec. 28, 2007
Los Angeles, CA - LMU advanced to the title game of the Hilton LAX Holiday Tournament with a thrilling 95-90 double-overtime victory over Cal State Bakersfield on Friday night at Gersten Pavilion. Junior Jenna Sybesma had career-highs of 29 points and 14 rebounds for the Lions (8-6), who snap a two-game losing streak. The Roadrunners fall to 6-7.
Sybesma's 29 points led five Lions in double figures and were the most by a Lion this season, topping the 23 recorded twice by freshman Renahy Young. She was one point away from reaching the LMU top-10. Sybesma had 10 points in the first half, 11 in the second, three in the first overtime, and five in the second to provide a steadying force for the Lions, who had three players foul out.
Senior Valerie Ogoke also had a record-book night, grabbing 18 rebounds, tied for the second-most in a single game in LMU history and the most since Sheri Brown pulled down 18 on January 15, 1993. Ogoke added four points and three blocks.
Sophomore Lisa Helmers and senior Amanda DeCoud each had 16 points for LMU, with DeCoud tying a career-high with eight assists. Freshman Renahy Young came off the bench for 11 points, five rebounds, five steals, and four assists.
Christine Kepenekian came off the bench for a tournament-record 36 points, making 14-of-25 from the floor, and adding 16 rebounds for the Roadrunners. Naomi Johnson also had a double-double with 15 points and 18 rebounds while Kelley Tarver had 15 points and Krista Arase added 12.
LMU's 95 points tie for the third-most all-time in school history while it is the program's first double-overtime game ever. The Lions shot 41.3% (33-for-80) overall, 35.0% (7-for-20) from three-point range, and 52.4% (22-for-42) from the line. Free throw shooting was a problem for the Lions early as they missed nine of their first ten but they made them when it counted, going 4-for-6 in the final minute of the second overtime to seal the game.
CSUB also had free throw woes, sinking 51.2% (21-for-41) as either team could have put the game away in regulation had it converted from the stripe. The Roadrunners shot 37.9% (33-for-87) from the floor but just 16.7% (3-for-18) from three-point range. They held a 66-60 rebounding advantage, including 27 offensive boards that translated to a 29-9 edge in second chance points.
In a game that featured 10 ties and 10 lead changes, Bakersfield used its inside game to pull ahead 64-61 with 2:21 left in regulation. Kepenekian hit two free throws and made a layup to bookend a layup by Johnson on a 6-0 CSUB run. Sybesma got loose inside for a layup to make it a one-point game but the Roadrunners went back to Johnson to restore the three-point lead. That's when Sybesma hit perhaps the biggest shot of her career. With Bakersfield sitting in a zone, the Lions stayed patient, working the ball around until it reached Sybesma at the top of the key. The junior did not hesitate, attempting the first three-pointer of her career and hitting it to tie the game at 66 with 38 seconds left.
Each team had a chance at the end of regulation. CSUB went to Tarver but her turn-around jumper rimmed out with eight seconds left. The Lions pushed the ball up court without calling a timeout and DeCoud got a good look from the baseline but it didn't go down as time expired.
Helmers gave the Lions the first lead of overtime, making a three from the wing and the Lions opened the extra period on a 6-1 run, capped by a 12-foot jumper by Sybesma. Arase connected on a three-point play to pull CSUB within one, 72-71, with 2:30 left but Young turned the corner and answered with a three-point play of her own to push the lead back to four, 75-71. The lead grew to as many as six, 77-71, but missed free throws allowed the Roadrunners back in. A layup by Tarver brought it to 78-75 and Helmers missed a free throw. Arase was fouled, making both, and the Lions couldn't inbound, turning it over at halfcourt. Kepenekian stole the pass, feeding Ke'Airra Jones on the baseline and her shot beat the buzzer to force a second overtime.
Once again, Helmers made a three to open the second overtime, taking a pass from Sybesma and connecting from the corner. Sybesma then went inside for a five-point LMU lead. With 2:41 remaining, the Lions led by two had a chance to put the game away when Ogoke was fouled and the Bakersfield coach was assessed a technical. Young knocked down the two technical free throws but Ogoke missed both of hers to keep the Lion lead at 87-84. Kepenekian then spun in the lane for a layup and was fouled by Ogoke, her fifth foul. Kepenekian missed the free throw but the Roadrunners got the offensive rebound and Kepenekian was again fouled, this time by Helmers, who picked up her fifth. Kepenkian only made one foul shot, tying the game, and Young untied it with a three-point play. After yet another Kepenekian free throw brought CSUB within two, Jones stole the ball and had a breakaway but missed the layup with a chance to tie it.
The Roadrunners fouled junior Cassady Moore, who made one of two at the line. Kepenekian then saw her three-pointer hit every part of the rim but come out. Jones grabbed the rebound and put it back in to make it 91-90 LMU with 12 seconds left. After a Bakersfield timeout, DeCoud was fouled. She made the first free throw and missed the second but Sybesma hustled to track down the offensive rebound and was fouled, making both to put the game away.
The Lions roared out the gates, making six of their first eight shots to take a 13-2 lead after four minutes. Sybesma had six points during the run, making her first three shots from the floor, while the Lion defense harassed the Roadrunners into missing six of their first seven attempts.
CSUB settled down and turned up the defense to go on a 13-0 run and claim a 15-13 lead. Kepenekian and Tarver combined for 13 of the first 15 points to get the Roadrunners back in the game.
Uncharacteristically sloppy fouling and rebounding by LMU enabled CSUB to hold a 29-25 lead with 5:13 left in the first half. The Roadrunners went to the free throw line 22 times in the first half but could not take advantage, only knocking down 50%. Bakersfield also grabbed 12 offensive boards to hold a 29-20 rebounding edge and out-score LMU 12-0 on second chance points.
Despite all this, LMU mounted an 11-2 run to close out the half with a 36-31 lead. Sophomore Kavita Goss got the run started with a three-pointer and senior Amanda DeCoud converted a pair of layups to put LMU ahead. Sybesma followed with a jumper inside and junior Cassady Moore made a steal and went coast-to-coast to round out the half's scoring.
Bakersfield opened the second half on an 11-1 run to reclaim the lead. Tarver and Naomi Johnson each had layups before Arase put the visitors ahead with a three-pointer. Shawnee Carter and Kepenekian also got in on the act to give the Roadrunners 11 points by five different players during the run.
DeCoud halted the momentum with a jumper in the lane and added another bucket but picked up her fourth foul with 14:09 left. The other Lions looked to pick up the slack, grabbing five consecutive offensive rebounds at one point, including three by Sybesma, but the Bakersfield lead remained between three and five for the next seven minutes.
The Lions stepped it up with six minutes to go, taking its first lead since the 18:17 mark as DeCoud made two free throws and Helmers connected on a long three for a 56-55 lead with 5:45 left. Kepenekian came right back with a three of her own but Helmers answered again as the lead buoyed back and forth.
LMU advances to the championship game Saturday at 4 p.m. They will face Kansas State, who defeated Arkansas-Little Rock 52-40 in Friday's other game. The day's play commences at 2 p.m. with Arkansas-Little Rock vs. Cal State Bakerfield in the consolation game.