The Menlo College women's basketball team swept a pair of games over the weekend to remain perfect at 10-0. The latest victory came Saturday as the Oaks held off a late Biola charge to capture a 77-74 victory inside Haynes-Prim Pavilion.
The win continues to boost the Oaks' already school record for victories to begin a season, with an exclamation point against Biola as the Eagles were ranked No. 22 in NAIA Division I.
"I think the biggest thing with this team is that we want to win and know how to make it happen," said senior Jenna Marinaro, who finished with 15 points, including two pivotal free throws down the stretch. "No matter what comes against us, we just know that we will have more points at the end of the game, and tonight we made that happen again."
Up by as many as 19 (66-47), with under eight minutes to play, the Lady Oaks watched the Eagles (5-5) run off 13 straight points to cut the score to 66-60 with just over four minutes left. Junior Angel Dorn knocked home nine during the momentum-changing swing, connecting twice from deep, and finishing on an "and 1" layup as well.
Menlo broke the 13-0 Biola run with a critical 3-pointer from senior Sareen Ohanian, which jumped the Oaks' advantage back to a three-possession affair. Ohanian finished with 10 points, one of four Menlo players to hit the double-digit point plateau.
The Eagles, however, responded to the Ohanian triple with another crucial spurt to bring Biola within one point, 73-72, with only 26 seconds remaining.
The Oaks refused to be denied and, thanks to the Marinaro, they weren't. She was fouled with 18 seconds left, but strolled to the stripe and calmly knocked down two clutch free throws to push it back to a three-point Menlo lead.
"I missed a key one earlier, so I wanted to make those two even more," Marinaro said on what was entering her mind while at the line. "My team had faith in me and my coach (Shannon Osborne) told me to hit . . . so I hit it."
Down 75-72, the Eagles were unable to get a good look from downtown on their next possession, but settled for a basket by Adijat Adams to bring it back to a one-point game. She ended her evening with a double-double, racking up a game high 23 points and 13 rebounds.
After the bucket, Menlo quickly inbounded the ball, and with just 2.5 seconds left, sophomore Jolise Limcaco was fouled. The 5-foot-6 guard nailed both free throws and, after Biola couldn't get a shot attempt on its final possession, the Oaks secured the thrilling win. Limcaco finished with 18 points, tied with fellow sophomore Laurel Donnenwirth for the team lead.
"We just talked about getting stops and taking care of the ball. We tried not to panic," Osborne said on Eagles' game-changing run. "They (Biola) have a really good team and started making 3's. They made a great run at us, but we did a good job of keeping our composure."
On Friday, Menlo utilized a pair of overwhelming runs to disperse of visiting Oregon Tech, 79-61.
Menlo erased an early 6-2 deficit with a 17-3 run to create some separation from the Owls (8-3) in the first half, before closing out the first stanza and opening the second one on a devastating 18-3 spurt to essentially put the visitors out of striking distance.
"Defense fueled both critical runs for us tonight," Osborne said on her team's pair of momentum changing charges. "We were able to get stops and then get out in transition, and when you put Jo (Limcaco) out in transition good things happen."
Limcaco had her fifth straight 20-point performance, notching a double-double in the process with a 21 points and a game-high 11 assists.
In its first action since November 24, Menlo College was beaten, 89-43, by NCAA Division I Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo on Saturday. The Oaks (2-8) had their hands full with a Mustangs (3-3) team that shot 57.4 percent from the floor, while the Oaks managed just a 32 percent clip in defeat.
The Oaks hit just 4-of-21 from the field over the first 20 minutes of play inside Mott Gym, as Cal Poly raced out to a 42-14 halftime advantage. The Mustangs didn't allow Menlo an opportunity to creep back in, thanks to just eight turnovers for the game, and a Cal Poly bench that outscored the Oaks' reserves 41-15.
Menlo's ChaRunn Jones finished with 15 points to lead Menlo. He made five three-pointers.
The Oaks received a strong game from junior Patrick Greene, who added 11 points with eight rebounds.
On deck for Menlo is a trip to Hawaii and a matchup against Hawaii Pacific University on Sunday.