The Saddleback women's basketball team defeated San Diego Mesa College, 78-56, on Friday in the consolation bracket of the Lady Gaucho Classic. The Gauchos will play Irvine Valley in the consolation finals on Saturday.
Saddleback never trailed in the game, opening up an 8-0 lead to start and never looking back. The Olympians never got closer than four points the rest of the half as Saddleback carried a 38-27 lead into the locker room at the midway point.
Saddleback came out of the break, hot, with Kayla De Leon burying a pair of three-pointer to extend the lead to 14. Mesa finally made a run led by Breanna Archie, who finished with a game-high 33 points. The Olympians cut the lead all the way down to three before the Gauchos regained control. Again it was De Leon, who buried her third three-pointer of the half to get Saddleback out of a funk. The Gauchos would eventually stretch the lead to 54-44 at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter started the same way as the first and third, with De Leon leading the charge. She buried yet another shot from beyond the arc with 8:35 remaining to stretch the lead to 58-46, and a second with 8:01 remaining for a 15-point lead. De Leon wasn't finished. On the next possession she knocked down another three-pointer as the lead stretched to 64-46, followed by a fade-away jumper for her fourth basket in a row as the lead grew to 20. Just when you thought the streak could end, De Leon hit her fourth three-pointer of the quarter with 4:29 remaining as the lead ballooned to 69-46. It total Saddleback (De Leon) outscored Mesa 14-0 over a 5:07 period, thus ending the game. Saddleback then emptied the bench in cruising to the win.
De Leon finished with a team-high 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field. She set a new school record in the process, making 8-of-16 from beyond the arc. The previous record was six three-pointers in a game was set by Emily Cox in 2014-15 and equaled by Laura Tapia last year.
Saddleback is now 2-3 on the season following the win. The Gauchos will face inner-district rival Irvine Valley on Saturday in the consolation finals. Tip time is scheduled for 10:00 AM in the Saddleback Gymnasium.