Friday night’s game at Saddleback began much the way it ended for the Lady Gauchos, with a setback. Freshman center Lindsey Sundin (San Clemente High) did not start against OEC foe Riverside because of a meniscus injury, leaving Saddleback with just six healthy players to suit up against the Tigers.
The Gauchos eventually wore down and lost 61-60, but gave the visitor’s all they could handle in defeat, including a last-second shot by freshman guard Antoinette Maynard (Chaparral) that would have won them the game. Sophomore forward Keshia Moore (Perris) led the offensive surge for Saddleback, tallying 26 points on 8-for-18 shooting and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.
Moore got little help elsewhere from her sidekicks though, as sophomore guard Arlene Kaleopa (Vista) was hounded all night by Tiger defenders and finished the game 4-for-19 from the field, good for 14 points. No other Gauchos scored in double-figures, while Riverside had a balanced scoring attack with three players scoring at least 10 points.
Saddleback turned the ball over 21 times under the Tiger defensive pressure and trailed 36-31 at halftime. A second-half surge led by Moore gave the Gauchos a chance to win the game,but with a roster decimated by injury, Saddleback was unable to rely on its bench for any support. The Riverside reserves outscored the Gaucho subs 15-0 in the contest.
With 16 seconds remaining, Saddleback had a chance to regain the lead, but lost the ball out of bounds after Riverside hit two free throws to take a one-point lead. Maynard’s
heave at the buzzer was off the mark and ended a volatile back-and-forth matchup that featured 11 ties and 13 lead changes.
The Gauchos also lost last Wednesday night at home to Fullerton, 55-44, as Sundin led the way with 16 points. Moore finished with 10 points, but a 10-point halftime deficit made it difficult for the shorthanded Gauchos to muster any sort of comeback.
Saddleback finishes the season 9-18 overall and just 2-10 in OEC play. They lost their last nine conference games since a 65-40 dismantling of Irvine Valley on Jan. 16.