Men’s Basketball: Gauchos win 16th straight, improve to 20-5

Zach Cavanagh

The Saddleback College Men’s basketball team came into their Jan. 21 game against the Cypress College Chargers ranked No. 3 in the California state coaches’ poll. The Gauchos showed their credentials to the Chargers. After a close game featuring five early lead changes, the Gauchos began to put the hammer down on both ends of the court. In the first half, Saddleback was able to hold the Chargers to 32 percent shooting from the field, while the Gauchos shot 45 percent. Aided by Cypress’s foul troubles, Saddleback was able to shoot 15 for 19 from the free-throw line to give them a 14-point lead at the half.

The second half would prove to be more of the same for the Gauchos defense. Saddleback again brought the defensive pressure and forced Cypress into shooting 26 percent from the field and only 22 percent from outside the three-point line. The Gauchos kept steady shooting 36 percent from the field and went six-for-six from the free-throw line.

Saddleback did have a scary moment midway through the second half as leading scorer Franklin Session fell over a Cypress player and landed on his neck. Session lay on his back in obvious pain for a couple minutes before being able to stand up and returned to the bench. Session reassured his team and the crowd that he would be all right after returning to the game a short while later and quickly knocking down two straight three-point shots. On the back of Session’s impressive overall performance, the Gauchos would cruise to a 76-56 victory.

Session led the team in scoring with a season-high 30 points going 9 for 21 from the field and an impressive 10 for 11 from the free-throw line. Session also added 12 rebounds and three blocks for his eleventh double-double of the season. Terrell Mack was second on the team in scoring with 19 points while going 6 for 6 from the free-throw line and adding two assists. Sarunas Jackson led the Gauchos in blocks with four and Kyle Wallace was second on the team in rebounds with six.

Saddleback would follow up their dominant performance against Cypress with a trip to Fullerton College on January 24. No. 3 Saddleback was in for a tough fight against the No. 20 Hornets. The Gauchos were able to pull out a close road victory with a final score of 61-59.

The two victories brought Saddleback’s overall record to 20-5 and their record in the Orange Empire Conference to 5-0. With the win against Fullerton, the Gauchos have brought their winning streak to 16 games. The streak is the longest for Saddleback since the 2001-02 season, when the Gauchos won 21 straight games. Saddleback returns to action on January 28 in Riverside, where the Gauchos will face the No. 16 Tigers.

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