Ripon can still be competitive without Reina Sausedo.
The Indians found this out for themselves Tuesday in a non-league game against once-beaten Oakdale while their best player watched from the bench with a cast on her shooting hand. They battled back from an early 11-point deficit, held a five-point lead with 3 minutes left in the fourth quarter and lost 63-61 in overtime.
Tayler Lamb converted on a put-back layup for the visiting Mustangs (6-1), her only points of the game, with 5 seconds remaining in regulation, tying it at 58-58. Alicia Platt accounted for all of the Mustangs’ scoring in the extra period by draining five of seven free throws. She finished with a game-high 26 points with seven rebounds and six steals.
Freshman forward Makenzie Loechler helped pick up the slack for Ripon (3-3), pouring in 14 points, 10 rebounds and four steals.
“I was just so proud of how hard they played.” Ripon coach Rick Inderbitzin said. “I was curious to see how we would respond with losing Reina, and the girls stepped it up and played well. I didn’t know were going to score that many points but I told them we’re going to grind this out.”
Sausedo broke a bone in her right hand this past Saturday while Ripon went toe-to-toe with Central California Conference contender Merced in the championship round of the Golden Valley Tournament. The Indians lost 57-46 and struggled in the second half without their do-it-all guard. Sausedo is a fourth-year starter who was named Trans-Valley League MVP in 2017 and Most Outstanding Player in 2018.
Inderbitzin said her hand will be x-rayed and re-evaluated in about a month when the league season tips off.
“I was impressed with how the whole team responded, and it’s something to build on,” Inderbitzin said. “If we can keep buying into what we’re doing I think we’ll be OK. Other people we’ll have to take up different roles, and as the coach I’m still trying to figure out the right combinations. We’re pretty deep.”
Their depth was tested as players got into foul trouble in the second half. Oakdale staked a 21-15 lead at the end of the first quarter, hitting four 3-pointers in the period. The gap widened to 11, 29-18, after Afton Daley (eight points, five assists, five steals) set up Maddy Jones (eight points) for an easy layup.
“They were hot and every (bounce) went their way it seemed like, but we just kept coming,” Inderbitzin said.
Ripon answered on the next possession with Kiley Holland’s and-one conversion, sparking a 9-2 run.
Down 34-27 at halftime, the Indians employed a press defense in the third quarter and were able to force 14 turnovers while Oakdale went the first 4 minutes of the half without a field goal. Mackenzie Hutchinson (eight points) made a buzzer-beating layup at the end of the quarter to draw the Indians in, 45-44. Mikaylah Vaught was instrumental in the second half when she tallied the bulk of her seven assists and eight steals.
It wasn’t until the 4-minute mark in the fourth quarter that Ripon took its second lead of the game, as Tianna Sidtikun (13 points, seven rebounds, four steals) knocked down a 3-pointer off the dribble from the right wing. Holland (10 points, eight rebounds) then came up with a backcourt steal and took it the other way for an uncontested lay-in, pushing the Indians ahead 56-51 with 3:43 to go.
Turnovers and missed shots on rushed attempts plagued Ripon down the stretch as it tried to put the Mustangs away. Malery States (eight points) converted on a put-back with 32 seconds left to give the Indians their final lead. Oakdale then turned it over with an overthrown cross-court pass but was given a second chance after Ripon missed a one-and-one free throw.
Both teams struggled from the field in overtime, with Oakdale leaning on Platt’s free throws to get the edge. Sidtikun hit one more 3 with 59 seconds remaining, and the Indians missed three from behind the arc on their final possession before Lamb secured the defensive rebound that sealed it for Oakdale.
“They do a good job,” Inderbitzin said of Oakdale. “Julie (Ford) has her team playing hard night in and night out. They’ve been missing some kids the past few games with injuries and stuff, but we knew going in they were going to be physical, they’re not going to quit and they’re going to challenge us.”