De Leon sets new mark in narrow loss

De Leon sets new mark in narrow loss

The Saddleback women's basketball team lost a heartbreaker on Wednesday night when they fell in overtime to Riverside City College, 97-93.  All wasn't lost, however, as freshman Kayla De Leon set the new program record for three-pointers in a game.

Saddleback knew it had its hands full with a Riverside squad that entered the game just one game out of first place in the Orange Empire Conference standings.    The Gauchos looked overwhelmed at first, falling behind 12-2 in the opening minutes.  The lead would eventually stretch to 25-9 with 2:24 remaining in the opening quarter, a sign that Riverside was on its way to winning its ninth game in the last 10 tries.  De Leon stooped the surge with a three-pointer to cut into the deficit, as Riverside finished the opening quarter with a 27-14 advantage.

Saddleback came out hot in the second quarter, scoring the first nine points while the Tigers went ice cold.  De Leon was again the catalyst, scoring seven of the nine points including a three-pointer to cut the lead to 29-23.   Riverside would stretch the lead back out to nine midway through the quarter before De Leon again answered, burying a shot from beyond the arc for her second three-pointer of the quarter.  On the very next possession, she drilled yet another as the lead dwindled to four with 5:04 remaining in the half.  De Leon would finish with 13 points in the quarter as Riverside heated back up and carried a 46-36 lead into the locker room.  She had 18 points in the opening 20 minutes, making 4-of-9 from beyond the arc.

Saddleback came out with a sense of purpose in the second half, with De Leon again leading the troops.  Her three-pointer with 8:44 left in the third quarter cut the Riverside lead to seven before some other Gauchos started to get involved.  Bree Shepard made a layup with 5:44 remaining to cut the deficit to five.  Shepard would make another layup with 3:12 remaining in the quarter as Riverside's lead dwindled to 54-51.  De Leon completed the comeback when she drained yet another shot from long range as the Gauchos got even for the first time since the beginning of the game at 54-54 with 2:26 remaining.  Riverside would take a two-point lead into the final quarter after Kimari Hollis made a shot at the buzzer for a 60-58 advantage.

The fourth quarter was back and forth, with neither team gaining more than a three-point advantage.  Saddleback took its first lead of the game at the 9:17 mark when De Leon drilled her seventh three-pointer of the game, putting her within one of tying her own program record.  She would tie the record with 1:29 remaining in regulation on a long-range jumper that gave Saddleback an 82-79 lead.  Unfortunately, the Gauchos would fail to make another shot down the stretch as Riverside tied the game with 30 seconds remaining, sending the game into overtime.

With as close as the game was, Saddleback was starting to get into serious foul trouble.  The Gauchos entered the overtime period with five players having four fouls.  Unfortunately, four of them fouled out of the game in the extra period as Raven Herrington, Landry Armstrong, Bree Shepard and Adandah Nyeche all had to take a seat on the bench.  De Leon didn't let it bother her, breaking the program record with 38 seconds left on the clock to cut the Riverside lead to 92-90. With very little time remaining, Saddleback was then forced to foul the Tigers, who finished out the game by making five straight free throws to ice the game. 

De Leon finished with 37 points in the game, draining 9-of-20 from long range.   The Gauchos also a new team record, making 15 shots from beyond the arc in the win (15-of-39). 

Another player that deserved high praise for her effort was Jazmine Langford.  The freshman from El Modena High School tied a career-high with 16 points and set a new high in rebounds with 17.  Langford now has 32 points and 31 rebounds in the past two games.

Saddleback is now 4-14 overall and 1-4 in Orange Empire Conference play.  The Gauchos will look to get back to winning ways on Friday when it travels to Cypress College (12-7, 4-1).  The Gauchos and Chargers are scheduled to tip off at 7:00 PM.