The Saddleback women's basketball team finished third at the Panther Pride Classic Tournament on Saturday in Rancho Cucamonga. The Gauchos beat host Chaffey College in the third place game, 53-49.
Saddleback had a rough start to the season but got things turned around at Chaffey College with the finish on Saturday. The Gauchos opened the tournament with a 64-55 win over Barstow College on Thursday, avenging a loss to the Vikings in the Gaucho Classic two weeks earlier. On Friday, they ran into the defending state champions from Mt. San Jacinto College and played gamely in falling, 58-55.
Saturday was an opportunity to pick up some hardware for the first time this season and the Gauchos cashed in. Saddleback opened up a lead in the first half and never looked back. The Gauchos led 19-10 after the opening quarter on the strength of outside shooting. Saddleback made 3-of-4 from beyond the arc in the opening quarter, with Raven Herrington making the best of both opportunities from the outside and scoring 10 points in the opening quarter.
Saddleback widened the lead to 31-19 at the half as the defense clamped down on the Panthers. The Gauchos forced 10 turnovers while holding Chaffey to 3-of-10 from the field. Samanna Trinh scored five points in the quarter while Joice Beda had four rebounds and three steals.
Things tightened up in the third quarter as Saddleback went cold from the field. The Gauchos scored just three points in the first seven minutes of the quarter as Chaffey cut the lead to 34-31. Beda answered the call with a steal and layup at the 3:04 mark and the Gauchos were back under control, outscoring the Panthers 8-1 in the final minutes in taking a 42-32 lead into the fourth quarter.
Saddleback again went cold to start the fourth quarter, failing to score a point over the first three minutes as Chaffey battled to within 42-37. Kayla De Leon finally got the Gauchos on the board at the 6:56 mark with a pair of free throws, and Taylor Williams made a layup with 5:02 remaining as the Saddleback lead was back up to 47-40.
Chaffey chipped away at the lead and eventually got it down to three at 47-44 with 1:09 left in the game, but Trinh quickly beat the Panthers down the court for a layup as the lead elevated back up to five. De Leon would eventually ice the game with three straight free throws in the final seconds as the Gauchos celebrated a third place finish at the Panther Pride Classic.
Harrington finished with a game-high 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field. The Gauchos were an impressive 16-of-22 from the free throw line after entering the contest shooting just 58% for the year.
Saddleback is now 3-5 overall and will have a couple of weeks off before playing in the Orange Coast College Tournament on December 17-19.