The Saddleback men's basketball team opened the Palomar College Tournament with a 73-55 win over Southwestern College on Friday in San Marcos. The Gauchos led wire-to-wire in advancing to the semifinals.
Saddleback was kicking off the rust of a six-day layoff and with Thanksgiving crammed in-between you never know exactly what you will get. The Gauchos suffered no tryptophan hangovers on Friday in cruising past the Jaguars to go to 5-2 on the season.
Saddleback opened with a 6-0 run over the opening three minutes before Southwestern finally got on the board. The Jaguars closed the gap to 6-5 before the Gauchos went on another run and clamped down on defense. Southwestern would end up going 4:47 without a point while Saddleback built a 12-5 advantage.
Southwestern would again close to within five at 14-9 with 9:39 remaining in the half when a third run would ensue. Saddleback again stifled the Jaguar offense for 2:23 while the offense found its rhythm in building a 20-9 lead with 7:30 remaining. The roof would eventually cave in on Southwestern over the final 5:30 minutes of the half as Saddleback closed on a 16-5 run for a 36-14 lead at the break. Nicholas Brannon, Shawn Stith and J.J. Overton led the charge, combining for 27 points in the half while the Gauchos held a 21-10 advantage on the glass.
Saddleback opened the second half with consecutive baskets from Colin Ferrier and Anthony Naimie as the Gaucho lead grew to 40-14. It grew even larger when Isaiah Brooks nailed back-to-back three pointers in a 20-second span as Saddleback opened up a 46-17 lead with 15:55 remaining in the game, thus closing the door on any chance of a comeback from the Jaguars.
Overton finished the game with a team-high 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field. Brooks finished with 13 points, making 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. Stith finished with 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Saddleback will play Miramar College in the tournament semifinals on Saturday at 5:00 PM. The Jets (5-1) were 78-76 winners over Los Angeles Harbor College on Friday. The other semifinal will feature 2017 state champion San Diego City College (8-2) versus upstart Santiago Canyon College (8-0) at 7:00 PM.