Lady Corsairs Lose Season Closer To Overpowering West LA Lady Wildcats

Heart, hustle and effort could not withstand brutal defense as the West LA Lady Wildcats edge out the SMC Lady Corsairs in their final game of the season.

On Saturday Feb. 21, the Santa Monica College Lady Corsairs basketball team struggled from the get-go, finishing with a rather disappointing performance thusly losing their last game of the season with a final score of 67-57.

The disappointing factors in the game not only came from their performance on the court but in the fact that had they won, they would have guaranteed themselves a birth in the playoffs and keep their season alive.

Struggling from tip-off the Lady Corsairs could not overcome the Lady Wildcats solid interior defense, getting out-rebounded by the opposition on the offensive boards and defensive glass.

Another struggle for the Lady Corsairs was their shot selection. Their primary choice was from downtown where they shot a dismal 11%. Not to mention their consistent turnovers, which hurt them throughout the game.

Regardless of the facts, the Lady Corsairs kept the game abreast trailing by one point heading into halftime with a score of 28-27.

After a quick start for the Lady Wildcats in the second half, the Lady Corsairs answered back by connecting at the charity stripe for 62% and getting a few quick steal that garnered several points-off-turnovers for the team.

However, the Lady Wildcats would not let the Lady Corsairs' quick turnaround affect them as they too kicked their team effort and overall performance into high gear, outscoring them by nine points on 53.5% shooting from the field to close out the game.

The Wildcats play steadily dominated the Corsairs performance from the beginning, but the main force behind their success came from second year captain, #22, Shannon Austin, who led the pack in the scoring column with 21 points by shooting 64% from the field and knocking down her free-throws for 79% on the night.

"[Tonight's game was] an upset, considering we beat them like almost 35 points last time we met," says Corsairs freshman guard Audriel "Lei Lei" Wyrick who struggled with her shot selection and closed out the game with 12 points.

On the other side of the court, the Lady Corsairs as a whole showed guts, hustle, heart and effort even when they were struggling- which was most of the game. One in particular who had a better night than others- statistically that is- was freshman forward, #12, Chantal Diaz, who tied a team high in the first half with eight points and finished the game with 15 while connecting at the line for 83% in the second half.

"We played hard throughout the whole game but at the end we didn't play as hard as we did in the beginning," says Diaz. "But I think I did ok, we all just let up offensively in the second half, so it's disappointing."

When it came down to it, the main problem for the Lady Corsairs was their shot selection, particularly shooting from the beyond the arc. As Bill Walton, amongst other basketball greats, always says, "You live and die by the three (pointer)." In that game, as head coach Lydia Strong notes, they died by the three, closing out the game on 22% shooting.

"We shot way too many outside shots and didn't really attack the (basket) the way we normally do, and we panicked," says coach Strong. "It's disappointing, if we won the game we would have been in the playoffs."

Although this might be a disappointing loss, the team is looking ahead next year as most of the ladies are in their freshman year and are eligible to play next season for head coach Lydia Strong and her assistant coaches Danny O'Fallon, Roger Kiyomura and Dika Firmansyah and see if they can raise their record to higher standings next season after a not too bad 7-5 from this season.

Says Diaz: "I'm excited for next year and I will definitely be back and work on my offense and defense along with the team."

The overall attitude from the team is that there is more work to be done before they get any better and some changes need to be made for them to get to where they want to go next season.

"The conference play was good and third place is not too bad- there are a lot of teams below us, but we did good," says coach Strong. "We have to get some size for next season, some more shooters, but mostly add some beef in [the post] with some size and some more recruiting."

The Lady Corsairs finished third in the conference this season, one year after being named conference champs in the '07-08 season.