Entering the fourth quarter the ELAC Huskies (27-7), who trailed Merced the entire game, put themselves in position to perhaps pull out another close win. Having trailed in the game by as much as 16 points, the ladies hustled and clawed to cut the Blue Devils lead down to six to start the final period. Instead, the Blue Devils (29-3) responded with 29 fourth-quarter points to pull away from the Huskies 89-75. Another successful Huskies' season has ended, as Merced will go onto the state semifinals Saturday.
Jennifer Pool lead East with 19 points to go along with four rebounds, four assists and four steals. Fellow starter Jaelynn Curley tallied 16 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Adrianna Gonzalez came off the bench to score 17, including hitting three of four shots from downtown. Fellow reserve Dominique Godbolt turned in a valiant effort with eight points, 11 rebounds and five assists. The Merced Blue Demons were lead by Suzana Shoji who scored a game-high 34 points, including a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line. Malaya Kendrick also excelled with 27 points and 14 rebounds, with Jada Johnson chipping in with 16 points and 17 rebounds.
Merced started the game fast, scoring two quick baskets and applying backcourt pressure on defense to get ELAC to turn the ball over - the Huskies ended up committing 10 turnovers in the initial period. The Blue Devils were quicker on both sides of the ball, as they used the turnovers to overwhelm the Huskies with fast-break opportunities and layups. The Huskies fell behind 27-16 to end the first quarter.
The second quarter saw ELAC steady the ship on both offense and defense. They shot 46.7% from the field to Merced's 42.1% and shaved Merced's lead to nine at the half, 45-36. ELAC then continued to grind away in the third period, aided by poor free-throw shooting by the Blue Devils. The score was 60-54 at the end of three, and the Huskies set themselves up for the comeback.
Instead, Merced pulled the game away in the fourth.
Malaya Kendrick hit her only three-pointer of the game, which was then followed by a Suzana Shoji layup plus the foul to push the Devils lead back to 12. ELAC's shooting went cold (36% for the quarter) while Merced heated up (50% shooting) and controlled the offensive glass to put the game away.
ELAC went 6-23 from three; Merced defended the perimeter well all game and gave the Huskies very few clean looks. East's bench outscored their opponent's bench 32-3, but it wasn't enough to overcome the relentless offensive attack of the Blue Devil starters whom shot 52.5% from the field (32 out of 61).