Women's basketball team steps up on defense in victory

Courtesy of Toni Lavacot
Courtesy of Toni Lavacot

Irvine Valley's women's basketball team, which is the top-ranked defensive squad in the Orange Empire Conference, limited Saddleback to just nine points in the first half and went on to a 53-32 win over the Gauchos on Wednesday night at Saddleback.

The victory halted a two-game losing streak in conference for the Lasers and improved their record to 14-6 overall and 2-2 in conference.

Irvine Valley is tied for fourth place in the conference standings, a half of a game behind Riverside (3-2). Irvine Valley hosts Riverside on Friday at 7 p.m.

The Lasers led, 13-4, after the first quarter and, 22-9, after the first half on Wednesday at Saddleback.

Saddleback shot just 15 percent in the opening half and 18.2 percent (8 of 44) for the game.

Fourteen of Saddleback's 32 points for the game came on free throws.

Irvine Valley shot just 31.0 percent (18 of 58) from the field as a team in the game, but it was enough.

The Lasers also out-rebounded Saddleback, 56-32, with 21 coming on the offensive end, won points in the paint (26 to 10) and had their bench out-score Saddleback's, 24-6.

Irvine Valley led by as many as 23 points midway through the fourth quarter.

Sophomore guard Tara Casey led Irvine Valley with 11 points. She added four rebounds.

Sophomore guard Jordan Coleman added 10 points and four rebounds. Freshman forward Kasey Smit had nine points and six rebounds and freshman forward Kydell Pearson contributed eight points and nine rebounds.

Teoncea Bennett paced Saddleback with 13 points and Hannah Saliba had seven points and 10 rebounds for the Gauchos.