Story by Sebastián Abdón Ibarra, Sports Information Student Assistant.
LA VERNE, CA — The University of La Verne women's basketball team took the court at the Sports Science and Athletics Pavilion for the first time since the 2019-20 season on Thursday night. The Leopards battled from an early deficit before dropping their season opener to the College of Idaho Yotes 87-77.
Marisa Howell came off the bench and led the Leopards with 21 points on 7-14 shooting including three three-pointers and collected three rebounds. Jazzlyn Johnson had a strong second half, scoring 14 of her 21 points and converted 5-7 free throws, collected four boards, and dished out six assists.
La Verne was able to reduce a 20 point deficit to just two points after Howell completely took over in the last five minutes of the second quarter. The comeback was sparked by a four-point play from Howell, who converted the and-1 after being fouled on a three-point shot to make it a 40-24 game. Later, with the score now 43-27, the Leos went on an insane 14-0 run to make the score 43-41 at the half. Jaelynn Curley got the crowd off their feet with a three to make the score 43-35. Then, Howell scored six points in 27 seconds to bring the Leos within two points going into halftime. She converted an and-1 on a layup and splashed home another three that caused the crowd to erupt with loud defense chants as they willed the Leopards to get one final stop as the second quarter expired. At the end of two quarters, Howell had 15 points on 4-7 shooting and was 4-4 from the line.
Coming out of halftime, Howell picked up right where she left off and tied the game 43-43 with a jumper. La Verne tied it once more 45-45 but was never able to take the lead. After being down 58-50, the Leos mounted a smaller come back to make the score 60-58, but were once again unable to take the lead with 1:17 left in the third quarter. The Yotes pulled away from there and the Leos were never able to threaten again.
Just as the men's basketball team did last week, the Leopards' first points in two seasons came from the free-throw line as Alyssa Ono buried both her attempts from the line.
Curley finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. Kendal Clark-Davis led La Verne with nine boards, seven off the defensive glass. The Yotes were led by Allie Cannon's 17 points.
The Leos return to action on Saturday as they host SAGU American Indian College in the Sports Science and Athletics Pavilion at 3:00 p.m.