Redding, Calif. - The Golden Eagles women's basketball team clinched a berth in the Cal Pac Conference Tournament with a 76-64 win over Simpson University. La Sierra is assured to finish no lower than the number three seed in the tournament. The Cal Pac Tournament involves the top four records, in conference play, to determine the conference representative that will receive the automatic bid to the NAIA Championship Tournament
Things started off a bit shaky for the Golden Eagles, who were on the road, facing a confident Simpson squad that just defeated William Jessup University on Friday night.
After an early 4-0 deficit, the Red Hawks quickly gained control with the help of an 18-4 run, to take an 18-8 lead.
Midway through the first half, the Golden Eagles trimmed the lead to three points multiple times, but Simpson pushed their lead back to double-digits, 33-23, with 4:01 remaining in the half.
Within 30 seconds, five straight points by Joirdan Jones cut the lead in half, 33-28, and by the halftime break Simpson had to settle for a 36-32 lead.
In the opening minutes of the second half, the Red Hawks went on a 7-2 run, pushing their lead back up to 43-34. But over the next six-plus minutes, the Golden Eagles methodically cut into the lead, finally catching the Red Hawks at 50-50 with 11:03 to play.
A 3-point basket by Natalia Hawthorne, with 8:16 remaining, gave the Golden Eagles their first lead of the game, since the first couple minutes of the game, when they jumped out to the early 4-0 lead.
Over the next six minutes, La Sierra used a 13-2 run, on their way to securing the victory and their first postseason berth in school history.
Joirdan Jones poured in 24 points, four assists, three rebounds, and one steal. Natalia Hawthorne added 19 points, pulled down six rebounds, with three assists and two steals.
Victoria Lowe had 10 points and five rebounds, while Brittany Walker led the team with eight rebounds to go along with her six points.
After Thursday night's loss to William Jessup, on Thursday night, the Warriors were in control of their own destiny with regard to securing the number two seed. But the Warriors loss to Simpson, the following night, transferred that control back to the Golden Eagles.
The Golden Eagles improve to 7-4 in Cal Pac play (13-14 overall). La Sierra will host UC Merced in their final regular season game. If the Golden Eagles are fortunate to win Thursday's game they will secure the number secure the number two seed in the conference tournament. Thursday's regular season finale will also serve as senior night for the Golden Eagles. The game is set for a 5:30 start, with senior night festivities beginning just prior to game time.