Pirates edge Gauchos for second straight win

Pirates edge Gauchos for second straight win

COSTA MESA -- Once the Orange Coast College women's basketball team got a taste of victory last week, the Pirates want to keep eating and on Wednesday, Coast made it two in a row with an 81-77 win over visiting Saddleback College on Wednesday inside the Peterson Gym.

Jalisa Simons had a season-best 36 points to go along with 16 rebounds to lead the Pirates (2-13, 2-3 in Orange Empire Conference), while Raelynn Denson added 19 points and Monet Oncu knocked down 14 points. Simons' 36 points was the most for a Pirate player since Courtney Ford's 37-point effort against Santa Ana during the 2007-08 season. The three dozen for Simons also tied Dianne Pulido (1996-97) for the ninth-highest point total in one game in school history.

Raven Herrington had 18 points for the Gauchos (3-12, 0-5 in OEC), while Nadia Taghavi-Dinani added 16 points off the bench. Kayla De Leon and Joice Beda (16 rebounds) each tossed 14 points.

Early on, it looked like the Gauchos were going to shoot the Pirates right out of their own building as the nailed 7 3-pointers in the opening quarter to grab a 28-23 lead after one quarter.

But the Pirates regrouped and Saddleback's shooting came back to Earth as Simons collected 12 of her 14 first-half points in the second quarter to give OCC a 48-45 lead at the break.

Coast maintained a three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and with the lead changing hands seven times over the final 10 minutes, the game came down to the final possessions for each team.

A made layup by Beda gave Saddleback a 77-76 lead with 1:12 remaining before Simons put the Pirates ahead for good with a layup and made free throw with 24 seconds left off an inbound pass from Nefertiti Van Den Heever, giving OCC a 79-77 advantage.

Saddleback had a chance to regain the lead, but a turnover by the Gauchos turned into more free throws for the Pirates, who made two more down the stretch to seal the victory.

Wednesday's triumph came on the heels of another down-to-the-wire decision won by the Pirates over Copper Mountain, 73-71. Simons again was on fire with 30 points, while Denson added 16, Oncu tossed in 15 and Van Den Heever added 10, giving first-year head coach Sabrina White her first win as OCC head coach.

LeLisa Watson led Copper Mountain with 26 points, while Chezerae Bogan-Osbey added 20 to go along with 15 rebounds.

OCC will be on the road for the next two games before returning to the Peterson on Friday, Feb. 1 against Irvine Valley, beginning at 7 p.m.