Lani Tu'uga brought the East Union girls basketball team to the finish line Tuesday night and Lauren Pablo nudged the Lancers over it as East Union came away with a thrilling 63-62 Valley Oak League road win over Manteca at Winter gym.
Camrenne Genilla (10 points, four steals, three rebounds) converted a three-point play with 43 seconds remaining in the contest to give the Buffaloes (3-1 VOL, 11-4 overall) a 62-59 lead. Tu'uga – who scored 12 points in the fourth quarter – answered back with a 3-pointer to tie the game with 28.1 seconds remaining.
Manteca got the ball upcourt and hurried off a shot with 18 seconds left, and Pablo (10 points behind three 3-pointers, four rebounds, three steals) grabbed the rebound.
Following a timeout, the Lancers (3-0, 13-2) tried a pick and roll with Tu'uga and Taylor Snaer but it was not there, so they kicked it out to Pablo who took it to the hoop. She was fouled and made one of two free throws with 2.4 seconds showing on the clock. The Buffaloes called timeout with 1.2 seconds left, and their desperation three-quarter court shot was off the mark to give East Union the one-point win.
“We wanted a pick and roll on that last play,” Lancers coach Jim Agostini said. “It wasn’t there, so we went to the kickout to Lauren (Pablo) and since they were in double bonus we took it to the rim, forced them to play defense and got the foul. On the (Lani Tu'uga) 3-pointer we ran a high pick and with her basketball instincts she went away from the pick, read it and pulled the trigger.
“This was a tough, grinding game. I don’t think either coach thought their team played their best, but I thought we played better defensively in the second half.”
Tu'uga (five steals, three blocks, three rebounds, two assists) and Snaer led all scorers with 18 points apiece.
“I know that 3-pointer was risky but I had to take it,” Tu'uga said. “In the fourth quarter I was just feeling it.
“Our defense picked up in the second half.”
Snaer scored eight of her 18 points in the third quarter that saw East Union close a 34-28 halftime deficit to a 43-43 tie going into the final period.
“It was a good win,” Snaer said. “It definitely had my blood pressure going up. We were down a lot of the time, we were up but then we started rushing it and not playing our basketball – this game was not even close to our basketball.
“I am so glad we won. Even though we didn’t play our best basketball we still came out with the win.”
Donnese Payne chipped in eight points and four rebounds for the Lancers, and teammate Ala Tu'uga grabbed eight rebounds and made four blocks.
Ariel De La O (five rebounds, three steals, two assists two blocks) led Manteca with 15 points. Kerena Malone added nine points and four rebounds. Jessica Perea chipped in six points and six rebounds.
There were six lead changes and seven ties in the game with four lead changes and five ties in the fourth quarter alone.
“I played in rivalry games in the VOL, but coaching is different,” Buffaloes coach Oscar Calix said. “It is definitely fun, though.
“When we took our last shot, we left too much time on the clock. We shouldn’t have shot it, we had some mental mistakes toward the end of the game and that’s what hurt us.”
Thursday at 7:30 p.m. East Union hosts Oakdale and Manteca travels to Modesto to face Central Catholic.
Manteca 28, East Union 26
Jada Ikharo led the Buffaloes with 16 points and teammate Jayda Anderson put up a double-double with 16 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and three blocks.
Aleza Zuniga paced the Lancers with 11 points.
Manteca 52, East Union 17
The Buffaloes shut out the Lancers in the first quarter.
Manteca’s Aaliyarae Jacobs led all scorers with 19 points and Bianca Gonzalez added 12 points.
Virginia Oliveria scored seven points for the Lancers.