WALNUT, Calif - No. 3 state-ranked East Los Angeles College ended No. 1 Mt. San Antonio College’s 51-game South Coast Conference win streak with a 71-59 win that could have a big say in deciding the SCC North Division title.
With four games left in the regular season, the Lady Huskies (22-2) and Mt. SAC (24-2) are tied for the conference lead, each with five wins and a loss.
Mt. SAC’s previous SCC loss was a 77-71 setback in February 2012 – also at the hands of ELAC who was then led by guard Keyanna Johnson. The Lady Huskies then snapped Mt. SAC’s 22-game SCC win streak. Johnson then averaged 18.0 PPG (most in the SCC) and 4.6 steals per game (4th best in the state).
“If you want to build a winning team, you must value all team members for who they are, not just what they do,” quoted Johnson. “I love this quote because to beat a team like Mt. SAC it's going to take your whole team. As long as they remember this they will bring home the state title,” said Johnson. The Huskies and Mt. SAC played in last year’s state championship game.
In tonight’s game, the Lady Huskies focused on defense and ran a much slower pace to avenge an 85-62 loss to Mt. SAC at home on January 18. With a motto of ‘Defend, Rebound, Run,’ the Huskies relied on defense to win tonight’s game.
“We knew this was a big game, so it needed to be a total team effort,” said Turner. “And, the total team effort was one of our best defensive efforts of the year.” The result was holding the Mounties to 59 points, 17.4 points below their average.
There were 15 lead changes and 5 ties in the first half. Each team’s largest lead was just three points, one of the reasons for the vocal crowd. ELAC sophomore guard Tiffani Martinez (Montebello HS) scored 12 first period points that included three treys.
Mt. SAC sophomore forward Kali Jones (Vista Murrieta HS) scored six first half points and had three rebounds.
In the third period, the Huskies ran a crafty slower pace to lead throughout, except for one tie. Mt. SAC sophomore guard Caira Benson’s (Arcadia HS) jump shot tied it at 34-all with 06:53 left in the period. Sophomore center Gloria Ortiz (Roosevelt HS) scored a layup on the next play (sophomore guard Allissa Gomez assist) to give the Huskies a lead they would not relinquish.
Mountie sophomore guard Maddeline Dopplick scored two free throws to pull Mt. SAC within three, 59-56, with 02:39 left in the game to cap off a 10-3 Mountie run. The Huskies responded with a 12-3 run for the 12-point win. During the run, ELAC connected on 3-of-3 baskets and 7-of-8 free throws.
Martinez scored a game-high 21 points for ELAC. Ortiz had a double double with 16 points, 15 RBs and she had two blocked shots. Teammate and freshman guard Monica Garcia (Garfield HS) scored 15 points and had a double double with 10 RBs.
“Martinez, one of the best shooters in the state, played great defense,” said Turner. “Everybody looked to Tiffani but Gloria had the game – she dominated and played defense getting (many) rebounds. You get those and you have the ball.”
According to Turner, sophomore center Anastasia Tsybaeva (Burbank HS) was instrumental inside and had three blocked shots. “Farrah Castillo (Rowland HS) had a nice ending. Her ball handling was key to our success,” said Turner.
For Mt. SAC, Dopplick scored a team-high 16 points; Jones scored eight points (10 RBs, 2 blocked shots) and freshman guard Dominique McLaughlin (Etiwanda HS) scored nine points.
In other SCC action tonight, No. 14 LA Trade Tech (18-5, 4-2) defeated No. 12 Pasadena City (18-7, 2-4) 54-51; Chaffey College (12-12, 2-4) beat Rio Hondo College (4-19, 0-6) 72-55.
ELAC hosts two games next week, Rio Hondo College on Wednesday and crosstown rival LA Trade Tech on Friday, Feb. 8. Mt. SAC has two road games, at Pasadena City on Wednesday and at Rio Hondo on Friday. All four games begin at 7 p.m.