Saddleback College Men’s Basketball team “squeaked” in a win against the Orange Coast College Pirates’ five-man roster

Saddleback College Guard Captain Whitlock makes a no look assist to Forward George Maslennikov during Wednesday’s matchup against OCC. (Frank Rocha/Lariat)

Saddleback College (16-8)      69

Orange Coast College (3-20)  59

The Wednesday night meeting at Saddleback College ended up in a victory for the Guachos against the OCC Pirates. The final score for the night, 69-59 had been a close game throughout the second half between the Orange Empire Conference teams. Orange Coast College were (3-19) for the season, going into their second match-up with Saddleback and only had five available players for the night. Saddleback was (15-8) going into the inter-league match-up, with a full fifteen man roster.

Even with the notable star, George Maslennikov, who finished with the team-high 16 points, and one rebound shy of a double-double, the team scathed by with the win. Without the Gaucho’s bench, who scored 36 points, the team would have lost the match-up between the winless in OEC play, the OCC Pirates.

“We squeaked by with this one,” said head coach, Andy Ground. “They thought they could just show up and not play hard.”

In the second half the Gauchos barely held a two position lead and almost scored half of the points they made in the first, making 45 points in the first and 24 points in the second. Also Saddleback earned 9 turnovers in the second half and in the first they only made 5. And were 34.6% (9-26) from the field and 12.5% (1-8) from the 3-point line in the second half. Coach Ground wasn’t happy with the teams outcome and questioned their attitude and energy going into the game.

“We didn’t move the ball particularly well,” said Ground. “Hopefully we will not take another team lightly.”

On paper the Gaucho’s made 15 assists, which is above their season average, but in person it was a poor passing night for the Guacho’s causing pesky turnovers and brought back OCC under 7 points late in the second half. And made the (0-10) in OEC play, Pirates look good and some-what of a contender for the second ranking OEC team in men’s basketball the Saddleback College Gaucho’s.

Going into their next matchup on Friday, away against the Santa Ana College Don’s (8-15) and it will be their second match-up for the season. The Gauchos barely came up with the victory in their first meeting, with a 56-52 win at home and the team looks to bridge the gap being two games behind Riverside City College in the OEC standings and 1.5 games back of Santiago Canyon College with four games remaining in the regular season.

“Hopefully they won’t think the same when we go to Santa Ana,” said Ground. “If they do, we are going to come out on the losing end.”

The Santa Ana Don’s lost to Irvine Valley College by one point (63-62) on Wednesday before their match-up against Saddleback College. With the remaining games left for the season, the Gauchos have a few important matchups on their schedule. After the Don’s they play the OEC leaders Riverside City, Irvine Valley and Fullerton.