Menlo women clinch share of Cal Pac basketball crown


Laurel Donnenwirth scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in leading the Menlo College women's basketball team past host Cal State Maritime, 62-56, in a Cal Pac Conference contest on Thursday.

Donnenwirth also made her first 3-pointer of the season and had four steals as the Oaks (7-0 Cal Pac, 19-4 overall) clinched at least a regular-season title tie.

Menlo has a three-game lead over the second-place Keelhaulers with three games to play. The Oaks, who extended their Cal Pac Conference winning streak to 34 (40 including playoffs), play at Simpson at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Amber Lane added 15 points and three steals, while Aaliyah Sowards contributed 14 points and three rebounds.

A back-and-forth game that saw six ties and nine lead changes in the first 25 minutes, a 14-2 run gave Menlo a 54-46 lead with 6:40 remaining in the game.

After falling behind 44-40 at the 16:50 mark of the second half, the Oaks surrendered just one field goal for nearly 12 minutes.

The Keelhaulers twice cut the Menlo lead to three in the final three minutes but could inch no closer.

Each time CSU Maritime got close, the Oaks responded immediately. Donnenwirth converted a three-point play to push the lead back up to 57-51 with 1:56 left and Vanessa D'Amico drained a 3-pointer to make it 60-54 with 1:17 remaining.

The Keelhaulers outshot Menlo 38 percent to 36 percent, but the Oaks held CSU Maritime to just 30 percent shooting in the second half.

Menlo outrebounded CSU Maritime 33-32 and committed 19 turnovers to the Keelhaulers' 21. The Oaks played with active hands defensively and came up with 14 steals as a team.

Men's basketball

Menlo's feverish second-half comeback fell short as the Oaks dropped a 64-59 contest to CSU Maritime Thursday evening in Vallejo.

The Oaks have lost six straight and are 2-21 overall and 1-6 in Cal Pac play, while the Keelhaulers (15-9, 7-1 Cal Pac) moved into a tie for first place with Simpson as a result of the Red Hawks losing at home to Pacific Union.

Guard Ben Graham led the Oaks with 12 points and two three-pointers, while Mikey Eggleton contributed 11 points on 4 of 8 shooting.

The Oaks found themselves in a 33-19 hole at the half after being held scoreless for the final 5:31 of the opening stanza but erased the deficit to five with a 14-5 run to start the second half.

The Keelhaulers struck back with a 14-4 run to take a 52-37 lead with 8:38 remaining.

Then the Oak attack really kicked into gear, with Brad Sawin and Eggleton drilling three-pointers on consecutive possessions to pull within single digits at 54-45.

The Oaks continued the onslaught, capping an 18-5 spurt with a Graham steal-and-score to cut the deficit to 59-57 with 1:52 remaining.

Menlo had two chances to tie or take the lead in the final minute, but Eggleton missed a shot with 52 seconds left and Graham turned the ball over with 47 seconds remaining.

The Oaks were much more efficient offensively as the game wore on, shooting 56 percent in the second half after connecting on just 24 percent of its attempts from the field in the first 20 minutes.

Menlo also held the Keelhaulers to 39 percent shooting and outrebounded CSU Maritime 30-28, but the Oaks committed 20 turnovers to the Keelhaulers' 11.

Menlo heads to Redding to take on Simpson at 7 p.m. Saturday for its final road game before ending the season with home contests against UC Merced and La Sierra University next weekend.

— Kevin Danna/Menlo Athletics

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