Women's basketball team battles back for 20th win of season

Courtesy of On My Game Photography
Courtesy of On My Game Photography

Irvine Valley's women's basketball team was in a battle from the start in an Orange Empire Conference game at Fullerton on Wednesday night.

The Lasers, ranked No. 7 in the state, third in Southern California and riding a 10-game win streak, trailed throughout the first half.

But IVC battled back in the second half and pulled out a 66-51 victory to earn its 20th victory of the season.

Irvine Valley improved its record to 20-3 overall and 9-0 in conference. Fullerton's record fell to 8-13 overall and 4-5 in conference.

Fullerton was up, 13-7, at the end of the first quarter and took a 33-29 lead into the half.

The second quarter was a dogfight as IVC took its first lead of the game within in a minute on a three-pointer by freshman guard Bryanna Espiritu and then a layup by sophomore guard Mary Dishonian.  Irvine Valley was up, 19-15, at 5:58, but Fullerton battled back to take the lead, 24-22 on a lay-in by Aliyah-Deen Ahmad. By the end of the half, the Hornets were on top, 33-29.

It was just the second time in conference play that Irvine Valley was down in a game at halftime.

Fullerton's Lani Maehara knocked down a three-pointer at 5:26 in the third quarter adding to Fullerton's lead at 38-32.

But the Lasers responded after that and took control.

Irvine Valley went on a game-breaking 15-2 run to take the lead at 47-40.

The Lasers out-scored Fullerton, 23-12, in the third quarter to go up, 52-45.

And IVC put the game away in the fourth quarter, limiting Fullerton to just six points.

After shooting just 29.4 percent as a team from the floor in the opening half, Irvine Valley, shot 41.2 percent in the second half.

Freshman guard Lexi Vail and sophomore forward Kasey Smit led the charge for the Lasers in the second half. Vail had 14 points and eight rebounds, while Smit finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds over the final 20 minutes of action.

Smit and Vail led the Lasers overall with 15 points apiece. Smit added 17 rebounds and two blocked shots, while Vail had nine rebounds and four assists.

Freshman guard Cydnie Danan chipped in 13 points, five rebounds and five assists and sophomore guard Elizabeth Garcia had nine points and five rebounds in 40 minutes.

Melody Thomsen had 14 points and eight rebounds to pace Fullerton.

Irvine Valley will go for its 12th straight win on Friday when it hosts Copper Mountain at 5 p.m.