The Saddleback men's basketball team defeated College of the Canyons, 71-64, on Friday afternoon in the Saddleback Gymnasium. The Gauchos head into Orange Empire Conference play two games over .500.
Saddleback and Canyons traded baskets over the first six minutes of the game as the lead changed hands four times. The Gauchos then went on a run, scoring 12 of the next 14 points and eventually heading into the locker room with a 39-28 advantage on the scoreboard. J.J. Overton had a big first half with 14 points as the Gauchos had a massive advantage at the free throw line, making 17-of-20 while Canyons was just 1-of-4.
Saddleback came out slow in the second half and the lead completely disintegrated in the first five minutes. The Cougars outscored the Gauchos 15-3 in the run with the lone basket being a three-pointer from Ryan Beddeo. Saddleback was just 1-of-5 from the field during the stretch while committing three fouls and a pair of turnovers.
Saddleback eventually found its stroke, taking back the lead at the 14:47 mark on a three-pointer from Captain Whitlock. The Gauchos never looked back, stretching the lead to 65-55 with 3:40 remaining on a layup from Overton, who finished with a game-high of 21 points.
Saddleback finished 22-of-34 from the free throw line, shooting 51% from the field and outrebounding the Cougars 34-29. Beddeo finished with 18 points and five steals while Canyons was led by Jude Agbasi and Anthony Simone, who both finished with 17 points in the loss.
Saddleback finished the pre-conference schedule at 9-7 overall and 9-5 against teams from California. The Gauchos will open Orange Empire Conference play next Wednesday when they travel to Cypress College. The Gauchos and Chargers are scheduled to tip off at 5:00 PM.