De Anza preserves late lead to beat Gavilan

McPhearson helps Dons stem late comeback effort by Rams

De Anza preserves late lead to beat Gavilan

Jeff Facun

As sophomore guard Shayla McPhearson goes, so does the De Anza College women’s basketball team.

The Dons required all of McPhearson’s 26 points to beat the visiting Gavilan Rams 63-56 on Friday Feb. 7.

“There is always room for improvement,” said McPhearson of her team’s performance against Gavilan. “We got the win and that is all that matters.”

The Dons stormed out of the gates to take an 8-2 lead three minutes into the game.

With 13:52 left in the first half, freshman forward/center Madison Michelis assisted freshman forward/center Gabby Whetstone in the low post for an easy layup to push the lead to 10-5.

Nineteen seconds later, the Rams’ Breanna Hernandez converted on a three-point play after being fouled by a Don’s defender in the low post, closing the lead to 10-8.

Over the next eight minutes, the Dons scored 13 points unanswered and pushed the lead to 23-8. A combination of defense and passing ignited the run.

The first half ended with the Dons leading 32-18.

Both teams came out with a defensive mindset to start the second half.

Neither team scored until Gavilan’s Kelsey Russell made a shot after being fouled by Dons’ sophomore forward/center Sarah Shear in the low post. Russell made the free throw to convert the 3-point play and closed the lead to 32-21.

The next two Gavilan possessions, Kelsey Caudill scored five points over a span of 41 seconds and the Dons’ lead shrinked to 32-26.

After a made 3-pointer from sophomore guard/forward Susan Aguirre pushed the score to 37-29, De Anza head coach Arden Kragalott called a timeout at 14:46. During the timeout, Kragalott settled her team down and employed a full-court press to slow down the Rams.

And the plan worked.

The next 45 seconds, the Dons forced two turnovers by sophomore guard Ashley Fadrilan and Aguirre. The turnovers resulted in four fast break points and the Dons’ lead grew to 12, 41-29.

Closing within five points with 2:43 left, the Rams kept battling. Gavilan’s Felicia Lee-Cardenas converted a three-point play to close the Dons’ lead to 58-53.

Stuck at 58 points during the Rams’ 8-0 run, McPhearson bailed the team out by stopping the run at 2:18. She drove to the hoop, stopped and scored a contested two-point basket to push the lead to 60-53.

With 1:27 left, Gavilan’s Hernandez made a 3-pointer as the shot clock was winding down to put the score at 60-56.

As the Rams tried to comeback in the final minute, Fadrilan intercepted a pass at the half court line with 23 seconds left and stopped Gavilan from doing so.

“Gavilan played really well,” Kragalott said. “We underestimated the team and we have to learn from that.”

McPhearson gave her coach a lot of credit for motivating her to be a leader and for successfully leading the Dons to the win. The win pulled the Dons into a tie for first in conference play with a record of 7-1 and brought the overall team record to 16-8.