SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The Violet and Gold went into battle with the Wartburg Knights inside the Kaiser Permanente Arena Thursday on day two of the UC Santa Cruz December Classic. Wartburg, the No. 4 team in the nation, refused to back down and defeated the Regals 53-50 in a nail-biter.
The Knights improved to 9-0 overall as Cal Lutheran dropped to 5-3. The Regals came out strong in the first period, as Kiana Gray started the game off with a 3-pointer in the first minute of play. Down by five, with 25 seconds left in the first quarter, Nayiri Aslanian made a clutch 3-pointer for the Regals, bringing the score to 12-10.
It was back and forth in the second period. The Knights made a very quick layup, which was answered quickly by a layup from Kayla Watterson, with the assist coming from Grace Derksen to tie the game up, 14-14. Kailee Yan nailed a 3-pointer with three minutes left in the half to bring the Regals back, but still trailed 21-19. With 20 seconds left in the second, Watterson made an astounding rebound and finished her efforts with a layup to head into halftime down by two, 21-23.
Natalie Ruhl kicked the third quarter off with a quick jumper, tying it up at 23-all. Derksen, Gray and Ruhl kept the momentum going as they made shot after shot, taking the lead, 32-26. The Knights answered back with three 3-pointers in a row. Yan and Gray brought the Regals back with a three-pointer and a jumper, tying the game at 37 all with 2 minutes left in the third.
Heading into the final quarter, the Knights went all in. Jozie Tangeman made a jumper bringing the Violet and Gold within four points followed later by two 3-pointers from both Yan and Tangeman to give the Regals a 50-46 lead. After a quick timeout, Wartburg came out firing, finding themselves up by three points with only 25 seconds left. The Regals had one last one shot at the buzzer, but their upset bid ultimately fell short.
Yan led the Regals with 11 points, shooting 3-6 on three-pointers, and Gray added 10 points. Watterson dominated defensively with 12 rebounds, two steals and three blocks. Both Watterson and Tangeman finished with seven points apiece and Ruhl added six.
Cal Lutheran will play again tomorrow at 4 p.m. in Kaiser Permanente Arena as they take on the Catholic Cardinals.
Box Score: WC 53, CLU 50
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Release by Nicki Tetherow, Assistant Sports Information Director
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