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LIVERMORE – Down by 19 points in the first half, Mt. San Antonio College came back for a last minute, 57-55, victory over East Los Angeles College to claim its seventh California Community College Athletic Association Women's Basketball Championship Sunday afternoon on Tony Costello Court at Las Positas College.
Tahniya Stweatt netted a driving jump shot with 18 seconds left for a 56-55 lead and then, after two East LA missed shots, sank a free throw with 1.4 seconds remaining for the final tally. The Huskies (24-10) did have a final opportunity in the near court, following a timeout, but could not get a shot off before the buzzer.
The seven women's basketball titles equals the state record, set by Ventura College.
Mt. SAC (34-1) did not lead until 2:33 remained in the game – on a short jump shot by Gina Henderson, who had eight points. The score was tied four times down the stretch.
The Huskies got out of the gate first, scoring the game's initial five points after a scoreless first two minutes of play – and then kept the lead for most of the game. East LA doubled the score, 34-17, on the Mounties at halftime, led by Jessica Sanchez, with nine points, and 6-6 Anastasia Tsybaeva with eight and mid-game.
"We knew we were close in the first half," said Mt. SAC coach Brian Crichlow. "We missed a lot of shots. We had some great opportunities, we just didn't connect. I told them at halftime if we converted the opportunities we were given in the first half, we'd be fine. But it was one basket at a time. The same way we got down by 17, we can fight back and get back in the game, and those girls did a great job."
All-tournament Alize' Lofton led Mt. SAC with 21 points and ten rebounds, while tournament MVP Jonnae Vermillion had ten points and ten rebounds.
For East LA, Allissa Gomez had 13 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Sanchez finished with nine points and seven rebounds. Both earned all-tourney spots.
Also on the all-tournament team were Danielle Palmer of City College of San Francisco and Jasmine Black of Fresno City College.
Mt. San Antonio extended its win streak to 25 games since its only season loss, 62-54, to Sierra College on Dec. 5. It was the third win this season by the Mounties over South Coast Conference North mate East LA.
It was Mt. SAC's fifth consecutive state final game appearance. Chabot College won the 2015 title with a 63-58 victory over the Mounties.
"To be here five years in a row is already tough," said Crichlow. "To have the opportunity to get back and avenge a two-year period where we lost a (finals) game, it's a wonderful thing. I'm proud of these girls."
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