The small space that sprung Kristina Lum for a drive to the basket closed before she could even get all the way there, but it was already too late.
The Lowell sophomore’s bank shot had already hit the net, a foul had been called on the rotating Washington defense and Lum was headed to the line for what would become a three-point play. And just like that, the Cardinals had regained control of a San Francisco Section girls’ basketball semifinal that moments earlier appeared on the verge of slipping away.
Lum’s basket with 7:04 remaining in the fourth quarter ended a 12-0 Eagles run and gave Lowell a 41-31 lead, and the Cardinals rolled from there in a 55-40 win at Kezar Pavilion. Lowell (25-4) advances to face Lincoln in Friday’s 7 p.m. final back at Kezar. Lowell won 53-46 at Lincoln on Feb. 5, the only time the two teams met this season.
“Our team was having a really hard time scoring and we were getting a little anxious,” Lum said. “I was hoping something would fall, and it did.”
Lum scored nine of her 12 points in the fourth quarter for Lowell, and the two-time defending champions have now won 23 straight games against Academic Athletic Association foes.
“That girl is amazing,” Cardinals coach Aki Kuwada said of Lum. “If we were in a championship game with a tie score and 1 second left on the clock and she was shooting free throws, I’d just start packing up. That’s how confident I am with the ball in her hands.”
Lowell seemed poised to win in a rout after forcing 18 turnovers in the first half and taking a 30-15 lead.
The Eagles started clawing back late in the third quarter, and when Olivia Wong banked in a
3-pointer from just inside halfcourt at the buzzer, Washington had cut the deficit to 38-27 and had all the momentum. Brittany Woo (15 points) then scored four straight points to open the fourth quarter to bring Washington (16-13) to within 38-31, but the combination of Lum and Anna Bukareva (12 points) steadied Lowell.
Lincoln 53, Wallenberg 32
Kelly Huey and Monica Washisu each had 10 points and the Mustangs (21-10) forced 33 turnovers to knock off the Bulldogs (11-12) in the other section semifinal at Kezar Pavilion.
Sophomore Hallie Meneses added eight for Lincoln, which began each half with an 11-2 run and had 10 players score.
“The defense is really what did it for us today,” Meneses said. “We knew we couldn’t take any win for granted and had to put the pressure on.”
Shawnte Taylor had 19 points and 17 rebounds to lead Wallenberg.
Lowell 55, Washington 40
Washington 8 7 12 13 — 40
Lowell 19 11 8 17 — 55
3-pointers: W—Ishii 2, Wong 1. L—S. Lum 2. Rebounding leader: W—Jones 13. L—Miao 6. Assists leader: W—Nina Mametsuka 2. L—Chow 5.
Lincoln 53, Wallenberg 32
Wallenberg 6 9 8 9 — 32
Lincoln 14 14 13 12 — 53
3-pointers: W—Angel 1. L—Jang 2, Cox 1, Ho 1, Huey1, Washisu 1. Rebounding leader: W—Taylor 17. L—Washisu 8. Assists leader: W—Cheung 2. L—Chow 7.