The Saddleback men's basketball team picked up an 84-74 win against Santa Monica College on Saturday afternoon in the Saddleback Gymnasium. The Gauchos welcomed back Ryan Beddeo in getting above .500 for the season.
Saddleback fans have waited nearly 1.5 years to see Beddeo, who missed all of last season due to injuries and now is healthy and ready to play. Beddeo returned to the lineup in Saturday, and quickly made a big impact against a Santa Monica team that entered at 7-5 overall and ranked in the top-25 in the state's Ratings Percentage Index (RPI).
Saddleback trailed early before taking a lead with 15:39 remaining in the first half. The Gauchos would never relinquish the lead, and Beddeo was a big part of the story. The sophomore from Valencia entered midway through the opening half with the Gauchos up nine points. He would play 19 minutes the rest of the way, scoring 15 points with three rebounds as Saddleback won its second straight game in trying to generate some steam before entering Orange Empire Conference play next month. Beddeo finished 4-of-7 from the field, hitting on 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. More important than the points was his athleticism as he looked ready to increase his workload moving forward.
Shawn Stith was a force inside on Saturday for Saddleback, leading all scorers with 28 points on the afternoon. Stith was unstoppable in the paint, making 7-of-8 shots from the field while draining 15-of-16 free throws. The free throws were story #3 for the day for Saddleback, as the Gauchos made all 18 free throw attempts in the opening half and made 33-of-41 for the game.
Saddleback will play at home again on Wednesday night when they welcome MiraCosta College to town. The Gauchos and Spartans are set to tip off at 5:00 PM in the Saddleback Gymnasium.