The Saddleback College women's basketball team opens the playoffs on Friday night when they host Pasadena City College at the Saddleback Gymnasium at 7:00 PM. On paper the two teams look evenly balanced as both look to advance to the CCCAA sweet 16.
Saddleback and Pasadena City have similar records as the Gauchos come in at 21-9 and the Lancers at 20-9. The two squads come from arguably the two best conferences in the southern half of the state as the Orange Empire Conference had five of its seven teams make the playoffs and the South Coast North, four of its six (with the top two seeds).
Saddleback and Pasadena City are also very similar when taking a look inside the numbers. The Gauchos average 65.2 points while surrendering 59.6 and the Lancers score 68.1 while giving up 56.9 in the defensive end.
Saddleback had four players make the All-Orange Empire Conference Team, led by conference MVP Janae Omusi (6'0"). The sophomore averaged 19.9 and 9.3 rebounds-per-game, scoring in double figures in 28-of-30 games. She was joined on the first team by Kiazha Ginwright (5'10"), while Kara Ito (5'5") and Laura Tapia (5'5") were second team selections.
Pasadena City had four players named to the South Coast North Team with Ilianna Blanc (5'11") and Jolene Robinson (6'0") making the first team while Kailyn Gideon (6'3") and Alisa Shinn (6'3") made the second team.
If there is a difference in the two teams it may be style in the offensive end of the court. Saddleback has taken 646 shots from three-point range this season with three different players taking more than 125 shots from beyond the arc. Pasadena City uses its height to work the ball inside and has attempted just 277 shots from long range all season.
The Gauchos would seem to have a small advantage at the free throw line as three players in the Gaucho starting lineup shoot 68%-or-better from the charity stripe. Conversely, PCC shoots just 62.7% from the free throw line. The Lancers have gotten to the line 79 more times than Saddleback but made only 34 more free throws.
In terms of scheduling, Saddleback was 8-8 against programs that qualified for the state playoffs while Pasadena City was 5-9. The Gauchos enjoyed wins over the South's No. 4-seed Cypress and the North's No. 5-seed San Joaquin Delta. Pasadena City also had a win over San Joaquin Delta while their biggest win against a team from the south was a victory over No. 3-seed Ventura.
The last time they played, Pasadena City defeated Saddleback, 72-49, in the third place game of the Lady Gaucho Classic in 2012. In that game the Gauchos shot just 25% from the field while the Lancers outrebounded them, 56-34. Saddleback hopes to turn the tables in Rd. 2 of the CCCAA SoCal playoffs in 2017.
The Gauchos and Lancers are set to tip off at 7:00 PM on Friday in the Saddleback Gymnasium.