LA VERNE, CA — The Leopards refused to go down. The University of La Verne women's basketball team erased a 20 point deficit and dominated in the fourth quarter on the way to a 78-72 win over Whittier in their SCIAC opener.
The Leopards improve to 3-1 overall and get out to a 1-0 start in SCIAC play. The Poets fall to 1-2 overall and 0-1 in conference action.
Jazzlyn Johnson took over the game in the fourth quarter scoring 15 of her game and career-high 31 points in the period. The point guard drove and forced action in the lane often, drawing several fouls from the Poets, leading to six points from the free-throw line in the quarter. The sophomore finished the game 10-19 from the floor with eight rebounds and an assist.
The Leopards went on a tear in the fourth quarter and outscored Whittier 29-8 in the period. La Verne kept the Poets off the board in the quarter until Shaeleigh Wright made a layup with 1:05 let in the game.
Johnson got the Leopards to within in a possession of the Poets with 5:42 left in the game when she capitalized off a Whittier turnover and finished with a layup. Destinee Garcia finally evened the game on the Leopards' next possession with a pair of free throws, and she gave the Leopards the lead when she stole the ball from Cali Cubel and finished with a jumper on the other end of the floor to put La Verne up 66-64.
Garcia made a huge impact in the fourth quarter registering all three of her steals and all seven of her points in the period. The senior also finished with five rebounds.
Johnson gave the Leopards their largest lead of the night when she sank a three-point to put the score at 74-64 with just 1:57 left to play.
Freshman Charnpreet Takher had a huge game off the glass grabbing a career-high 14 rebounds including 10 defensive boards. Her rebounding ability proved crucial in the fourth quarter as the Rancho Cucamonga native grabbed six rebounds with five on the defensive end.
Jasmine Xiong totaled 13 points, four assists, two steals, and two rebounds. The junior has finished in double figures in three of the Leopards' four games this season. Alondra Ponce nearly finished with a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing eight boards.
Kendall Stanley added three steals, three rebounds, and two points off the bench.
Teani White led the Poets with 19 points and Cubel contributed 18 points.
After the first quarter, it looked like it would be a long night for the Leopards. In a reversal of the final quarter, the Poets outscored the Leopards 18-6 in the opening period and held La Verne to 1-16 shooting from the floor.
La Verne showed more life in the second quarter but still couldn't get to within striking distance of the Whittier with Bella Robles giving the Poets a 40-20 with seven seconds to play in the first half. The Leopards began chipping away at the Poets' lead in the third quarter aided by nine points from Johnson and seven from Ponce.
The Leopards take a break from SCIAC action and host Pacific Union this Friday at 4 p.m.
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