Santa Ana – As conference play gets underway in the Orange Empire Conference, Irvine Valley (13-7) made the short drive to Santa Ana College to face off against the Dons (13-7), pulling out a last-minute stand to seal a 76-70 victory that nearly wasn’t.
The Lasers made an early statement to the Dons on Friday night by pulling away in the first half. The Lasers started the first half hot, shooting 63.6% behind the three-point line.
IVC was up at the half, 41-27.
Leading the Laser attack was sophomore guard Jenna Schonfeld, who was making threes left and right over Dons opponents. She led IVC with 25 points, including 6-9 behind the line.
Santa Ana started the second half with a game plan, dominating the half’s start. They quickly went on a 21-11 run to cut the Laser lead to 53 45.
With time running out, the Dons took their first lead of the game, 65-64, on a Heather Couzens basket. The momentum seemed to be turning for the home team.
“By sticking to the game plan, especially on the road, you got to take care of the basketball,” said IVC’s coach Julie Hanks. “I called time outs to disrupt their rhythm.”
But calling time outs did not seem to slow down Laser guard Patrice Fuentas. With less than three minutes remaining in the game, Fuentas, while being fouled in the act of shooting, made a clutch three pointer to give the Lasers a three-point lead. Following her sealing free throw, the Lasers went on to a 76-70 victory.
Fuentas finished with 13 points.
DJ Butler also made her presence known in the game, achieving a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
With the win, IVC improves to 13-7 (2-2) and a share of third place with the Dons in the OEC standings.
The Lasers will travel to play Cypress College on Wednesday, before facing Golden West Friday at Concordia University. Both games are at 7:30 p.m