The Saddleback men's basketball team improved to 2-0 in Orange Empire Conference play with a 69-58 victory over Copper Mountain College on Friday night at the Saddleback Gymnasium. The Gauchos pulled away late for their third straight win.
Saddleback and Copper Mountain were locked in a close battle when the Gauchos made a late run to close out the Fighting Cacti. Saddleback trailed 52-50 with under six minutes remaining when they made their move. The Gauchos outscored Copper Mountain 19-6 the rest of the way, clamping down on defense and forcing the Fighting Cacti into a number of difficult shots.
The run started with a pair of three-point baskets from Ryan Beddeo and Captain Whitlock to give Saddleback a six point lead. The two would combine for 12 points in the late run as Copper Mountain had no answers on defense.
Saddleback finished with four players in double-figures as J.J. Overton and Sean Birk led the way with 13 points apiece. However, the most impressive stat line of the night belonged to Whitlock who made 5-of-6 shots from the field in scoring 12 points in 22 minutes of play.
Saddleback now stands at 11-7 overall and 2-0 in Orange Empire Conference play following the win. The Gauchos will travel to play inter-district rival Irvine Valley College next Wednesday, looking to stay atop the OEC standings. Tip-time is scheduled for 5:00 PM in Irvine.