Gauchos blast Santa Ana to set up showdown

Hawes made 6-of-11 from long range on Tuesday
Hawes made 6-of-11 from long range on Tuesday

The Saddleback men's basketball team won its fifth straight game on Tuesday with a 99-71 victory over Santa Ana College at the Saddleback Gymnasium.  The win sets up a showdown with Fullerton College for the conference title on Thursday night.

Saddleback and Santa Ana were even through 10 minutes with the Gauchos holding a narrow 19-16 lead.  Saddleback then went on a torrid run, outscoring the Dons 23-2 to finish the half.  The Gauchos were blazing hot from the outside, making 8-of-16 from long range while holding Santa Ana to 21% shooting over the opening 20 minutes.  Jake Hawes came off the bench to make 3-of-7 from long range while Reggie Varner continued his hot hand from last week, making 2-of-2 from beyond the arc.  Things got so bad for Santa Ana that Saddleback emptied out the bench before reaching the five-minute mark in the opening half.

Hawes came out in the second half and continued his roll, making three straight shots from long range as Saddleback extended the lead to 31 midway through the half.  He would finish with a team-high 18 points for the night, making 6-of-11 from beyond the arc.

When Hawes wasn't hot, Breaon Brady was.  After sitting most of the opening half with two fouls, Brady scored 11 points in the first nine minutes of the second half as Santa Ana had no answers inside.  Brady would finish with 15 points in just 16 minutes on the court before getting the rest of the night off.

Saddleback was unstoppable on offense in the second half, making 23-of-31 shots (74%) while burying 6-of-9 from three-point range.  The Gauchos would finish shooting 61.3% for the game and 56% from three-point range.  The 14 shots made from three-point range was two short of a program record 16 made against Cerritos College in 1989-90.

After a cold-shooting first half, Santa Ana was lights out in the second half, shooting 66%.  QV Johnson was a wizard with the ball, scoring a game-high 21 points while dishing out eight assists. 

Saddleback is now 24-3 overall and 10-1 in Orange Empire Conference play heading into the regular season finale on Thursday night against Fullerton College.  The Hornets were an easy 96-50 winner over Orange Coast on Thursday night.

Saddleback and Fullerton are set to tip off at 5:00 PM on Thursday night at the Saddleback Gymnasium.