The Menlo College women's basketball team earned a third straight trip to the NAIA Championships by winning the California Pacific Conference playoff title for the third year in a row on Monday night in Atherton.
"It's a great accomplishment and really a tribute to all of the hard work the team has put in," said Menlo coach Shannon Osborne. "I think tonight was a great win for us. We were able to beat a very good Jessup team for the third time which is never an easy thing."
Menlo took an early lead in the first two minutes, but then trailed for the remaining 18 minutes of the half, falling behind by as many as 10 points with just under 11 minutes remaining. As the half progressed, Menlo mounted a run that cut the lead to as few as one before William Jessup sent it into the break leading 36-32.
The Warriors shot 45 percent from the field and 78 percent from the free-throw line in the first half while Menlo shot 44 percent but was 0-for-5 from 3-point range.
William Jessup continued to apply pressure in the second half and led until, with 12:14 remaining, Menlo gained its first lead since early in the first half and never trailed again.
The Lady Oaks' largest lead of the contest came on a basket by Laurel Donnenwirth with 4:00 remaining to make it 61-53.
Donnenwirth again proved why she is considered one of the top players in the conference by building off of Saturday's 28-point, 25-rebound performance with a 27-point, 11-rebound effort in the championship game. Cal Pac Player of the Year Jolise Limcaco was the only other Menlo scorer in double-digits with 13 points, three rebounds and four assists in 39 minutes of action.
William Jessup was led by a stellar performance by senior Taylor Borba, who picked up the slack when leading scorer Ashley Rose exited with an injury early in the second half. Borba continually found ways to the basket and posted a team-leading 23 points.
Menlo came up with a solid defensive effort in the second half and held the Warriors to just 32 percent shooting. William Jessup also shot just 1-for-10 from 3-point range.
A capacity crowd at Haynes-Prim Pavilion was on hand for the semifinals and finals.
"I'd like to say the crowd was great to us and really played a big factor in our win," Osborne said.
Menlo now turns its focus to a trip to Sioux City, Iowa for the 32-team, single-elimination 2014 NAIA National Championships that get under way March 12.
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