ESCONDIDO -- The Orange Coast College women's basketball team nearly pulled off an upset for the ages on Friday night, but in the end, the heavily-favored Palomar College Comets found just enough to send the Pirates home with an 80-77 loss in the second round of the Southern California Regional playoffs.
This was the fourth time that Coast (17-14) and Palomar (26-2) have played this year, with Palomar winning the previous three matchups by an average of 34 points. Shorthanded with the loss of two top players, the 12th-seeded Pirates actually carried a one-point lead into the final quarter before the fifth-seeded Comets used a pair of 3-pointers by Roshell Lemug and Ariana Hernandez to grab the lead away from their pesky guests.
Coast refused to go away and used a 7-1 run -- all on made free throws -- to trim the deficit to 73-72 with just over one minute remaining in the game. But, on Palomar's next possession, Kendall Crosby, who led the Comets with 23 points, nailed her seventh 3-pointer of the game to make it 76-72. From there, Palomar made just enough free throws down the stretch to thwart off another late OCC run.
Regina Sheffield added 13 points and seven rebounds for Palomar, while Hernandez came off the bench for 12 points.
Palomar, which entered the game as the state's No. 2-defensive team (48 points allowed per game), allowed 70-or-more points for just the fourth time this year as the Pirates came out swinging and nailed 12-of-25 3-pointers and shot 43.3% (26-of-60) from the field.
Fighting through a relentless Comet press, the Pirates limited their mistakes and had only 15 turnovers. Palomar is seventh in the state in turnovers forced (24 per game).