By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Although they are at opposite ends of their college basketball careers, Chelsey Gipson and Jane Nwaba are both seeking the same thing: the conference title.
Last Saturday, the former Palisades High teammates faced off in their first NCAA meeting. Each started for her respective team and when the final buzzer sounded it was Gipson’s Loyola Marymount Lions celebrating a 53-50 victory at Gersten Pavilion on the LMU campus in Westchester.
The matchup not only featured two former Dolphins but also two Palisadian-Post Cup Award winners. Gipson was named Palisades’ senior athlete of the year in 2016-17 after leading Palisades to its third straight City Open Division final when Nwaba was only a freshman on varsity and the team was coached by Torino Johnson.
Nwaba was named the school’s senior athlete of the year in 2019-20 after leading the Dolphins to their first City Open Division title since Gipson’s junior season. As a junior, Nwaba led Palisades to the City Division I crown under new Coach Adam Levine.
Saturday’s game was not only a West Coast Conference clash but also at stake were PCH Cup points between the universities are separated by 20 miles of scenic coastline along PCH and for the last 12 years each team has earned one point for each home win and 1.5 points for each road win versus its crosstown rival.
Gipson, a 5-foot-7 senior guard, played 28 minutes for the Lions, finishing with two points on 1-for-7 shooting with one rebound, two assists and three steals.
Nwaba, the Waves’ 5-10 freshman forward, booked 22 minutes with two points, two rebounds and one steal, shooting 1-of-4 from the field. Pepperdine raced to a 21-13 lead in the first quarter and held a 27-25 edge at halftime. LMU cut its deficit to one point entering the fourth quarter and took the lead for good, 50-48, on a jumper by Nicole Rodriguez with 2:46 left in regulation. After Gipson missed a pair of potentially game-clinching free throws with 19 seconds remaining, the Waves worked for the last shot but Monique Andriuolo missed a three-pointer with one second left.
LMU (4-7, 3-3 WCC) travels to Pepperdine (3-4, 0-3 WCC) for the rematch February 13 in Malibu. Gipson is averaging 7.7 points and 1.9 rebounds with 15 assists and 15 steals. Nwaba is averaging 5.2 points and 4.7 rebounds with seven assists and nine steals.
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