"It feels amazing; it's everything I have ever hoped for since joining the program," said Menlo head coach Shannon Osborne, who is headed to nationals for the first time in her four-year Menlo career. "This feeling is just as good as I thought it would be, and to win it at home is even more special."
Menlo improved to 15-13 this season by winning its seventh-straight game, going 7-0 in the month of February.
Menlo next will compete in the State Farm NAIA Division II National Championships, which will begin March 7 in Sioux City, Iowa.
Locked up in a close battle early, the Lady Oaks used a 13-3 run to take a nine point lead, 36-27, into halftime. Lauren Adamek scored six of the 13 points during the stretch, ending the contest's first 20 with 12 points. The junior from Hollister also chipped in with 10 rebounds for a first half double-double.
Adamek opened the second half by scoring six of Menlo's first 10 points to push the Lady Oaks' advantage to 13 within the first three minutes. The 6-foot-2 Adamek finished with a game-high 26 points and 17 rebounds, showing her brilliance when the lights were brightest. She made 12 of 19 field goals and grabbed 11 offensive boards.
"It's an unbelievable feeling," remarked Adamek on helping guide the Oaks to the playoff championship after Menlo captured the regular-season title. "Coming in as a transfer and being able to play with such a great group of girls is amazing. I'm glad I have the chance to share this with all of them."
Some of those teammates include the team's dynamic freshman duo of Jolise Limcaco and Laurel Donnenwirth. Limcaco helped guide the Oaks through a critical second half 12-2 run that saw Menlo turn a 54-40 advantage into a 66-42 lead, essentially putting the game in the books with nine minutes to go.
Limcaco finished with 19 points, 14 in the second half. Donnenwirth picked up her second consecutive playoff double-double with 11 points and 12 boards, and also hit a key bucket as time expired in the first half to give Menlo its nine-point halftime lead.
Cal Maritime, behind sharp three point shooting from Marisa Carion, who knocked down 4-of-6 from beyond the arc in the second half, got to within 11 with 3:02 left. Menlo's suffocating defense, however, never allowed the visitors to get any closer. The Lady Oaks held the nation's leading scorer and Cal Pac Player of the Year, Alexsis Brown, to 16 points, 12 below her average.