The Saddleback men's basketball team picked up its 13th straight win on Wednesday with a 58-45 decision over Cypress College at the Saddleback Gymnasium. The Gauchos wrestled control of the game in the second half as things got chippy over the final 20 minutes.
Saddleback received a spirited challenge from a Cypress squad that was thinking upset. The Chargers led the Gauchos for much of the opening 20 minutes before Saddleback went on a 10-4 run to close out the half, evening the score at 27-27. Saddleback had a tough time inside in the opening half as the much smaller Cypress club out-rebounded the Gauchos 24-17.
The teams remained close through the first five minutes of the second half as Cypress held a 33-32 lead with 14:46 remaining. However, the fouls were adding up and so were the emotions. Shortly thereafter, the Chargers were whistled for a foul when T.J. Shorts drove to the basket, and before he hit the ground another Charger was whistled for a technical foul for excessive contact. This prompted Cypress coach Andrew Alhadef to object, which resulted in another technical on the bench. When all was said and done, Shorts made all four free throws and Kevin Miller followed with a three-pointer with the extra possession, giving Saddleback a 39-33 lead they would never relinquish.
Saddleback picked up so many fouls in the first 10 minutes of the second half that Cypress was in the double-bonus before the game reached the midway point. Back-up post player Arash Poorsina picked up five fouls, starter Breaon Brady had three and back-up forward Chance Kalaugher another four as the referees were relentless. It didn't bother Brady, who took control over the final 10 minutes. He finished 8-for-10 from the field with a game-high 16 points, also leading the Gauchos with eight rebounds. Kalaugher gave some great minutes in relief when Brady was on the bench, scoring nine points and collecting three rebounds in just 10 minutes of work.
The defense was also a factor over the final 20 minutes as Cypress couldn't buy a basket. The Chargers shot just 19% in the final 20 minutes, missing all six shots from beyond the arc. The Gauchos stretched out the lead in the closing minutes, with Miller getting hot from the outside. He scored 10 second-half points, making 2-of-4 from downtown. Brady scored the final basket of the game on a lay-up for a 13-point lead as Cypress never scored over the final 4:18 of the game.
Saddleback is now 18-2 overall and 4-0 in Orange Empire Conference play. The Gauchos are tied with Fullerton College at the top of the standings after the Hornets scored an 81-72 win over Riverside.
Saddleback will look for its 14th straight win on Friday when it travels to Santa Ana College. Tip time is scheduled for 7:00 PM.