The Saddleback men's basketball team defeated Cypress College, 61-45, on Wednesday night at the Saddleback Gymnasium. The Gauchos remain one game out of first place in the Orange Empire Conference after the win.
Saddleback dialed up the defense on Wednesday, holding Cypress to 21% shooting in the opening half in taking a 31-14 lead. The Gauchos were also dominant on the glass in the opening 20 minutes, outrebounding the Chargers 24-11.
Saddleback and Cypress were both ice cold through the first 15 minutes before the Gauchos stretched out the lead over the final five minutes. J.J. Overton was a catalyst, making 3-of-5 from the field to lead the team with seven points in the opening half.
Things picked up in the opening four minutes of the second half as Saddleback stretched the lead to 41-21. Nicholas Brannon and Shawn Stith buried back-to-back shots from beyond the arc during the run.
Cypress closed the lead to 51-39 with six minutes remaining as Saddleback went ice cold from the free throw line. Saddleback made just 6-of-13 over the final 20 minutes as the officials got busy, calling 25 fouls against the two teams in the second half. The Gauchos had both Stith and Isaiah Brooks foul out of the game, keeping things interesting down the stretch.
Saddleback put the game away with back-to-back baskets by Overton, with the second coming on a thunderous dunk with 1:15 remaining to extend the lead to 59-45. Overton would finish by scoring the final six points of the game for Saddleback in finishing with a team-high 17 points for the night.
Saddleback (12-10, 4-2) will have the rest of the week off due to a bye on Friday. The Gauchos will resume next Wednesday when they travel to Santa Ana College to take on the Dons (8-11, 1-5). Game time is scheduled for 7:00 PM.