Saddleback College’s Dusty Baker looks to pass the ball to one of his teammates against Irvine Valley College. (Photograph courtesy of Saddleback Sports Information)
The Saddleback College men’s basketball team’s play was fierce on Friday night as the Gauchos scored a 58-49 win playing away against the Irvine Valley College Lasers. When all was said and done, the Gauchos had succeeded for the 25th time this season. Saddleback is currently having one of its best seasons,with a 25-2 record overall.
“We tried to take away their three shooting because they really shot the ball really well,” said head coach Andy Ground after the game. “We mixed it up in man to man and zone.”
Once Saddleback’s players were in transition on the break, they clearly took the momentum in the game, Ground said.
“We were able to run our offense,” he said. “We took advantage of our opportunities to get the ball to our guards, pushing the ball up on the break, as we at times could grind it out too.”
The Lasers had a tough time matching up against the Gauchos’ two, seven foot tall centers, sophomores Conor Clifford and Kyle Hoag. The Gauchos clearly had a size advantage in this game, as IVC does not have a player taller than six feet nine inches.
“Our big advantage is our size inside, where we have our two seven-footers,” Ground said. “The Lasers had to take that into account, so that opens up our perimeter for us.”
The Gauchos centers Clifford and Hoag generally post up inside on offense, giving them high-percentage looks at the basket and forcing the defense to double team them in the paint. Saddleback’s centers scored many points in the post including slam dunks.
“Our offense scored down low and that dragged the Lasers inside, which left our perimeter free,” Ground said. “Give IVC credit, they are a good team which makes it hard to go against them for long periods of time.”
In the second half, Saddleback had a 44-35 lead in the game and spread the ball around, making it hard for IVC’s defense to cover Saddleback’s playmakers. These playmakers were sophomore guard Andrew Bournes and freshman guard Jalen Hall. Both players excelled in breakaways and they broke IVC’s second half press.
“I thought we did a good job against their full court press,” Ground said. “They were mixing it up pretty well with the 2-2-1, and run and jump on us, as we did have to call a couple of timeouts. I thought we really spread the court well, which gave us a lot of space to operate.”
The Gauchos will continue to make their season a memorable one as they defend home-court against Fullerton College on Tuesday, February 10. IVC will play an away game at Riverside City the same Tuesday.