The Shasta College women’s basketball team, pictured earlier this season, lost a state playoff game against Mission on Wednesday night 79-74. (Photo by Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)
Jerry Brown and the Shasta College women’s basketball team knew they were up against one of the highest scoring teams in the state, full of shooters and a team that liked to push the tempo.
It was going to take more than that to intimidate the Knights. And if it weren’t for a couple of shots to fall late, they would have been the ones smiling at the end instead of tears.
Fifteenth-seeded Shasta College weathered a boatload of 3-pointers and stuck to their unselfishness style of play to hang around but couldn’t top No. 17 Mission College of Santa Clara Wednesday night, falling 79-74 in the opening round of the California Community College Athletic Association Northern California Regional Playoffs, presented by Sierra Pacific Industries.
Shasta (14-12) trimmed a 14-point deficit down to three on Justyse Cooper’s putback with 6:43 remaining. Mission (17-10) answered with two of its 15 3-pointers in the game and Shasta later cut it to six points three more times, including Keeley Tuggle’s triple with 14 seconds remaining that brought the Knights within four. But that would be as close as they could get.
“What gave us a chance to win this game until the end when we had to foul was their teamwork, their toughness and their willingness to not give up,” Brown said. “They didn’t give up until there was no more fight left to have.”
Cooper muscled her way to 20 points and 17 rebounds in a dominating game in the post. Mari Fernandez added 17 points and eight rebounds, Tuggle pitched in with 14 points and six boards and Jordan Martinez added 13 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Even if the Knights predicted Mission would drop 15 3-pointers, nine coming in the first half, it didn’t take them out of their game. Shasta used Cooper in the low post to announce their presence with authority and keep it close with Mission’s downtown shooting. Shasta trailed 29-20 after the opening period and 44-37 at half.
Despite the Knights only knocking down two 3s in the first half, they stayed within their game and chipped away the way they know how – together. Knocking down eight 3s in the second half helped too.
“Mission was shooting unbelievable and I looked up thinking we were down 20 points but we were always around eight to 10,” Brown said. “Then we’d hit a shot or two and we’d be right there against a team that wasn’t missing anything.”
Mission opened the third with four 3s in four minutes and led by 14 late in the period. Fernandez followed Martinez’s trey with one of her own to highlight an 8-0 Shasta run that the Knights took into the fourth quarter trailing 63-57.
Urgency continued to build. Martinez fed Tuggle in transition and Cooper followed it by cleaning up a miss inside to cut it to 3, the closest since the 2:18 mark in the first quarter.
“It took guts and determination to get to that point,” Brown said.
Mission answered with a 3, a layup and a free throw and later led 74-66. Shasta failed to convert on multiple scoring opportunities around the 2-minute mark until Martinez buried a 3 to make it 76-71 with 1:13 left, giving the Knights hope.
Shasta sent Mission to the line and they split 2 of 4 freebies, the second coming with 27 seconds left on the clock. Tuggle got the 3 to fall with 14 seconds left but it was a little too late as Mission’s Alayah Bell finished it off with a free throw to end the Knights’ season.
“I’m so proud of these girls and the way they did it without there being an individual,” Brown said. “They all played as a team, hard on defense, just worked and didn’t care about who was scoring and just shared the ball.”
Mission 79, Shasta College 14
#17 Mission 29-15-19-16–79
#15 Shasta 20-17-20-17—74
Mission (17-10): Austin 22, Hotchkiss 18, A. Bell 13, Erezo 12, Del Rio 8, McGee 3, Smith 3.
Shasta (14-12): Cooper 20, Fernandez 17, Tuggle 14, Martinez 13, Bonomini 6, Crawford 4.
3-pointers—Mission 15 (Hotchkiss 6, Austin 5, Erezo 4); Shasta 10 (Tuggle 4, Martinez 3, Bonomini 2, Fernandez).