Saddleback College player Jamie Moe, left, drives down the court against Irvine Valley College player Melanie Kashanchi. (Austin Messick)
Despite a strong performance by center Audri Sargent last Friday night, the Saddleback Gauchos women’s basketball team was unable to hold off the Irvine Valley College Lasers in a 48-43 loss in the first half of the President’s Cup.
This loss left Saddleback with a 1-5 record in Orange Empire Conference play and a 8-14 record overall. Sargent scored 17 points and had 19 rebounds in the interdistrict rivalry game.
“The main thing that we need to learn as a young team is to fight, to work as a whole, and to know that every game counts,” Sargent said.
Sargent is the only returner on this year’s team with a supporting cast consisting of 11 freshman. IVC is also a young team returning three players themselves.
During the first half the game consisted of strong defensive play by both teams. The game began to get physical after IVC’s Ashley Washington banked in a 3-pointer with 12 minutes to go.
Saddleback began widening their lead through good ball movement and two consecutive baskets made by sophomore Sydney Gathright with six minutes to go in the half. Gathright was the Gaucho’s second offensive leader with ten points and six rebounds.
At halftime the Gauchos had a 24-17 lead over the Lasers . The second half began with an IVC steal and an immediate 3-pointer to bring the score to 24-20.
Saddleback remained in control until the Lasers took a 44-43 lead with 41.4 seconds to go. After an IVC timeout and shot clock violation, the ball was back in the Gauchos’ possession.
The Gauchos then missed their next shot and were forced to foul sophomore guard Ashley Fajardo with 6.4 seconds left on the clock. Fajardo made both free throw attempts to bring the IVC lead to 46-43.
The Lasers were then able to steal the Gauchos’ inbound pass and Saddleback was forced to foul again with 5.5 seconds on the clock. Fajardo made both of her final free throws to end the game at 48-43. With this win IVC advanced to 2-3 in OEC play and a 11-11 record overall.
“We really stressed free throws in the last few weeks so I felt relaxed and focused at the line,” Fajardo said.
IVC was able to rally back by executing their defensive game plan and shooting 34 percent from the field. The Lasers also had ten steals in the game.
“The keys to winning at the end were that we played together and executed the game plan the coaches had for us,” Fajardo said.
IVC was led by Fajardo who scored 12 points and was 6-7 from the free throw line sinking her last four free throws in the final ten seconds of the game. Two other impact players for the Lasers were guard Raycie Haley and center Tyne McClure who both scored eight points.
Saddleback plays Riverside City College at JW North High School gymnasium this Friday at 7:30pm and IVC will play at Fullerton College at the same time.
Saddleback College player Desiree Ale, right, defends against Irvine Valley College player Melanie Kashanchi. (Austin Messick)