SAN FRANCISCO --- After claiming the PacWest conference regular season title last year, California Baptist University came out looking to start conference action with a bang.
The Lancers knew it wouldn’t be easy playing the PacWest Tournament Champion, Academy of Art, but CBU couldn’t hold off the Urban Knights to fall 74-66 Saturday night.
The Lancers drop to 2-5 overall and open the PacWest with a 0-1 conference record. With the win, the Urban Knights improve to 4-4 on the season and 2-0 in conference, after defeating Point Loma Nazarene on Tuesday.
Cassidy Mihalko provided a spark off the bench, scoring 18 points (8-for-12) to lead the Lancers’ attack. Two other CBU players finished with double figures as Kamille Diaz (3-for-6) and Elise Shelton (5-for-11) each ended the night with 10 points. Shelton was just on the verge of a double-double, leading the Lancers with nine boards.
CBU opened the contest with a 5-2 run, scoring the first points of the night off a jumper from Chanel Cambronero.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as the Urban Knights keyed in on defense to force turnovers and capitalized on CBU defensive mistakes. ArtU established an eight-point cushion at 24-16 before the Lancers could break the scoring streak.
Mihalko ended the drought with a jumper inside the arc to put the score at 24-18, hoping to inspire her team. The Urban Knights managed to keep the Lancers off the boards offensively, however, to not allow many second-chance shots, while building back up their lead.
CBU battled back to tie the game with 1:38 remaining in the half as Elise Shelton finished a layup in the paint to cap a 7-0 run.
With two free shots at the line, the Urban Knights once again took the lead back. The home squad added another from the field to give ArtU a 35-31 lead at halftime, despite the Lancers holding a 46.4 shooting clip (13-for-28), compared to the Urban Knights’ 36.6 percent (15-for-41).
Coming out of the break, the Urban Knights went back up by eight, but CBU kept on their tail and cut the lead to three to put the score at 54-51 and 7:45 remaining.
Intensity started building as each team tried to grab the game’s momentum and ArtU holding a slight upper hand at 57-56 heading down the stretch.
With just under four minutes left, the Urban Knights took a 61-56 advantage, forcing head coach Jarrod Olson to call a timeout.
Despite efforts to slice ArtU’s lead, the Lancers couldn’t contain the Urban Knights on defense to find themselves in their largest hole of the night at 70-60 with 1:05 left to play.
Erin Asher sent an arched shot from distance through the hoop with ease to put the Lancers behind by single digits once again. Down 72-63 with just under 20 seconds left, Kamille Diaz hit her first three-pointer of the night to put the score at 72-66 with 11 seconds left.
As the clock wound down, the Lancers’ shots wouldn’t fall to finish the game with a 75-66 defeat.
CBU continues on the road as it heads to Holy Names on Saturday, looking to grab its first conference win and break its unlucky losing streak. The Lancers finally return home to host Fresno Pacific on Saturday, Dec. 14 with a 5 p.m. tipoff time.