Tough fourth quarter dooms Pirates in loss to Santa Ana

Tough fourth quarter dooms Pirates in loss to Santa Ana

COSTA MESA -- The Orange Coast College women's basketball team ran into a rough fourth quarter on Wednesday night and lost to visiting Santa Ana, 68-61, on Wednesday night inside the Peterson Gym in a critical Orange Empire Conference matchup.

Leading 51-46 heading into the final quarter of play, the Pirates (17-11, 5-5 in OEC) struggled to score and hit just 3-of-19 from the floor (15.8%), and 1-of-8 from 3-point range (12.5%). Meanwhile, the Dons (15-11, 5-5) outscored the Pirates 22-11 in the quarter on 8-of-12 shooting, which overcame some shaky free-throw shooting down the stretch (4-of-12).

Blaysen Varnadoe led the Dons with 16 points and 13 rebounds while overcoming some second-half foul trouble. Lauren Fruto added 15 points and nine boards, while Alysia Gamboa chipped in 10 points and three assists.

For the Pirates, Michelle Wu tossed in a game-high 18 points, while Danielle Obong added 15 points. Megan Lewis, who took over for an injured Sydney Briggs, tossed in seven points and a team-best 10 rebounds.

In a game where neither team reached a lead of double digits, both teams traded blows throughout the matchup. 

With the game tied at 43 midway through the third quarter, layups by Wu, Megan McCullough and McKenna Izzi along with a pair of made free throws by Bela Raimondi pushed OCC up, 51-43, before a last-second 3-point play by Angela Rodriguez trimmed the Coast lead to five at the end of three quarters.

Santa Ana came out strong for the fourth and led, 59-58, with 2:36 left in regulation. From there, back-to-back post baskets by Varnadoe and a layup by Fruto pushed the lead to 65-58 with just over a minute remaining and the Dons held on from there.

OCC will play at Irvine Valley on Friday (7 p.m.) before returning to the Peterson Gym for "Coaches vs. Cancer Night" on Tuesday against Fullerton College, also at 7 p.m.