Embry Riddle's Danae Ruiz (22) looks to drive the ball against UC-Maritime on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, in Prescott. Ruiz had nine points, six rebounds and eight assists in a 76-52 win for the Eagles. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)
Originally published Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 09:21p.m.
Embry-Riddle hosts UC-Merced in potential Cal-Pac title matchup Saturday
Jazlyn Maletino scored 21 points, Katana Martina added 18 and the Embry-Riddle women’s basketball team used a 43-18 second-half run to squash any hopes of a UC-Maritime upset in a 76-52 win Thursday night.
It is the eighth straight victory for the Eagles, which shot 62 percent from the field (16 of 26) in the second half and out-rebounded the Keelhaulers 48-29, improving to 10-1 at home this season.
The victory sets up what could be the biggest game in Embry-Riddle’s young history Saturday against UC-Merced, which may likely decide this season’s Cal-Pac champ.
Embry-Riddle (19-3, 9-1 Cal-Pac) opened the game with a 9-0 run, but the Keelhaulers quickly responded, using a 15-4 spurt of their own capped by a driving layup from Nneka Anyaoha.
The bucket put UC-Maritime (5-19, 0-9 Cal-Pac) up 15-13 at the 2:40 mark in the first period, and sparked a 19-14 second-quarter run to take a 34-33 lead at halftime.
“That’s kind of been a trend for us, we jump on people early and we let our foot off the gas,” second-year Embry-Riddle coach Becky Burke said. “I think we need to have a sense of urgency, when you get up nine, 10 points, you have to keep your foot on the gas and understand it’s the first quarter and anything can happen.”
In the second half, Embry-Riddle came out on fire, outscoring the Keelhaulers 18-6 in the third quarter. Bethany Wolph’s offensive put-back capped a 26-11 run with 7:22 remaining in the game, and back-to-back 3-pointers by the freshman guard a few minutes later sealed the deal.
“We knew coming in at half that we had to pick it up,” Wolph said. “Coaches told us, but as teammates we needed to hold each other accountable. We got together as a team, came out and brought it.”
Wolph finished with 12 points on four 3-pointers in 27 minutes off the bench.
“She’s a specialist that can do multiple things,” Burke said of Wolph. “It’s hard to find a sniper that’s also comfortable putting the ball on the floor and can pass the basketball. She’s been huge for us and gives us another weapon along with the other kids that we have.”
Martina grabbed four rebounds and was 8 of 9 shooting from the field, making it one of the more efficient games she’s played this season. Maletino was 8 of 12 from the field, including 4 of 6 from the free-throw line in 31 minutes off the bench.
Other standouts for Embry-Riddle included Jenna Knudson, who scored just six points but grabbed 10 rebounds and had five assists.
The sophomore guard credited the Keelhaulers on their intensity.
“Their record doesn’t show the kind of team they are, they play hard,” Knudson said. “They have good players. You have to outwork them, nothing is easy.”
Katherine Freitas led UC-Maritime with 19 points on 6 of 10 shooting from the field, including five 3-pointers. Luisa Delos Reyes added 13 points for a club that’s now lost 16 straight, their last win coming Nov. 11 in a 68-51 victory over Multnomah.
Embry-Riddle now faces a Bobcats squad that beat them 66-57 on Jan. 4 in Merced, California. UC-Merced’s (15-7, 7-1 Cal-Pac) only conference loss this season came at the hands of Antelope Valley (79-61) on Jan. 11.
Tipoff on Saturday in Prescott is set for 5:30 p.m.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is sports editor for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @SportsWriter52 or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.