Lady Vaqs Drop One To Santa Monica

Brandon Hensley

Lady Vaqueros Coach Monica Hang couldn’t explain it. Judging from the way her players performed, neither could they.

Pressured, confused and befuddled, the Glendale women’s basketball team fell to the Santa Monica Lady Corsairs Saturday night at GCC, 56-37, in a game that saw a season-long trend continue for the Lady Vaqs: their inability to handle the opposing team’s defensive pressure.

Santa Monica (7-8) full-court pressed Glendale on every single possession (even when the game was well in hand), forcing the Lady Vaqs into a staggering 36 turnovers.

Glendale (8-9) fell to 1-1 in Western State Conference play.

“We’ve played so many games now, everybody’s pressed us. I don’t know why they panic or fold during a press,” said Hang, talking about her team’s troubles.

Forget all the contemporary music that blared in Verdugo Gym at halftime; the only appropriate song that should have played was David Bowie’s “Under Pressure.”

Kendra Carter had 17 points (including four 3-pointers), 17 rebounds and two blocks, and Amanda Quesada had 11 points and six rebounds, but it was an altogether poor offensive performance for Glendale.

Amanda Gupilan, the team’s second leading scorer at 11.2 points per game, was held to just three points on one-for-eight shooting. As a team, Glendale shot only 13-for-60 (21.6 percent).

Hang cited the fact that this was Glendale’s first home game since November, and said the team might have been nervous. “Playing in front of family and friends, I think that got to them,” she said.

Santa Monica built a 22-13 lead, behind the stellar play of forward Chantel Diaz. She finished with 28 points, showing a variety of moves around the basket, namely a turnaround mid-range jumper that proved unstoppable. Diaz was too quick for Carter, and to powerful for anyone else who guarded her.

“She’s a really good player,” said Hang. “I have to give it up to her. She works really hard. She didn’t let us affect her in any way. If you double team her it didn’t affect her.”

Santa Monica led 29-20 at halftime, and came out like gangbusters in the second half. Behind Diaz and the 3-point shooting of Haley Newell (17 points), the Lady Corsairs built a 46-26 lead midway through.

Quesada tried to spark her team on offense, repeatedly driving inside the lane, but her attempts misfired, and she seemed to get discouraged that the referees weren’t calling fouls. When she did get to the free-throw line, she made only three out of 11 attempts.

“I told the team at halftime you can’t expect the refs to bail you out,” Hang said.

But mainly, it was the pressure that got to Glendale. When the ball was in the hands of point guard Susan Rascon, she was able to break down Santa Monica’s press. In order for that to happen, the Lady Vaqs had to have proper ball movement, and too many times a player would try to split a double team with dribbling or throw the ball over the head of their intended target. Overall, consider this game a giant misstep for a team that came in averaging 60.5 points per game.

Hang said she thought her team didn’t play fundamentally sound, and that players were just “running around.”

Glendale next plays on the road against Citrus College Saturday at 5 p.m. The Lady Owls are 2-0 in conference and 10-8 overall. They are led by freshman guard Brianna Barfield, who is averaging 16.5 points per game.

Hang said she does not anticipate that Cirtus will press, because “they don’t have the bodies” for it, but Glendale’s secret is out, and to improve on the season and make the playoffs, the Lady Vaqs will have to stand up to the pressure sooner or later