Survive and Advance: Pirates edge Santa Rosa in OT to reach state title game
LEMOORE -- The amazing story of the Orange Coast College women's basketball team gets one final chapter after the Pirates topped Santa Rosa Junior College, 80-75 in overtime in the semifinals of the California Community College Athletic Association Women's Basketball State Championships on Saturday at West Hills College Lemoore.
With the win, the South's top-seeded Pirates (31-1) will take on the North's No. 1 seed, Butte College (28-3), who knocked off previously unbeaten Palomar, 60-59 in the other state semifinal matchup, following OCC's win.
Meghan McIntyre led Coast with 25 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and five steals, while Annie Trinh and Karina Cabrera each added 17 points and Gabby Samiy tossed in 16 points. Center Savannah Seiler bounced back from a tough game with five points and a solid 10 rebounds against a well-disciplined Bear Cubs squad that saw their season come to an end at 29-3.
"I don't really have a lot of words, except to say ... this is awesome," OCC head coach Sammy Doucette said. "I am so proud. Nobody thought we'd get here. But ... the OCC Pirates and our HUGE support system did and that's all that matters. My girls are fighters. They fought for each other. They fight for me. What more could I ask for?"
For the Bear Cubs, Lucca Lowenberg led the way with 25 points,while Ashleigh Barr added 18 points and 18 rebounds. But, no other SRJC player hit double digits, hitting a collective 13 of 34 shooting for the night (38.2%).
Coast grabbed the early momentum and carried that through most of the game. A 7-0 lead started things off and after one quarter of play, the Pirates held a 16-10 advantage.
Santa Rosa quickly regrouped and would peck away at the deficit, only to see the Pirates answer back with baskets of their own.
OCC's biggest advantage came with just under 4 minutes remaining in the first half when the Pirates led by 11 at 29-18. An 8-3 run by SRJC wrapped up the first half and the Pirates carried a 32-26 lead into the break.
Adjustments were made by the Bear Cubs and they came out with another level of play, chipping away into the deficit and getting it down to one point on three different occasions in the third quarter, but Coast would respond and the Pirates were able to maintain their advantage heading into the fourth quarter with a 52-49 lead.
With 3:31 left in regulation, Barr banged in a 3-pointer to finally pull the Bear Cubs even with the Pirates at 61, but Samiy banged in a trey of her own, pushing the Pirates back in front 64-61 just eight seconds later.
But, over the next minute, a Barr basket and a 3-pointer from Bowenberg gave the Bear Cubs their first lead of the game, 66-64, with 2:19 left in the fourth.
Both teams traded leads before a McIntyre free throw tied things at 70 with 37 seconds left. Santa Rosa played for a good shot, but it was missed. However, the rebound was mishandled out of bounds, giving the Bear Cubs one final possession in regulation with 11 seconds remaining.
OCC's defense clamped down when it needed to and both teams had to settle for a 5-minute overtime session to decide the winner.
Back-to-back SRJC turnovers set the early stage for a strong OCC start and the Pirates did just that. A layup by Samiy and three points from McIntyre gave OCC a 76-71 advantage with 1:39 remaining in OT.
A Lowenberg layup trimmed the OCC lead down to three at 76-73, but back came the Pirates as Cabrera drove to the lane, got hammered on the play, but still made the layup, putting Coast up, 78-73 with 55 seconds left. "Karina's drive in OT was incredible," Doucette said. "Teams have been taking away her away all year since she broke our 3-pointers in a game record. And, it's so easy for someone who loves 3's to get frustrated. But, she digs deep, does her job defensively and lets it come to her. That is a trait she has developed this year. That, among so much more, is why we are playing (on Sunday).
Santa Rosa again trimmed the lead back to three and had a chance to tie the game, but a late 3-point opportunity missed its mark. Trinh was fouled with 3 seconds remaining and the sophomore calmly nailed both attempts to ice the game and send the Pirates back to the championship game for the first time since winning it all back in 2002-03.
Up next for the Pirates will be Butte College ... a team that showed ZERO fear against the unbeaten Comets. Winners of 13 straight heading into Sunday's championship, the Roadrunners are led by sophomore forward Meghan Weinrich, who averages a team-best 19.4 points per game to go along with 11.5 rebounds a game. Freshman guard Sara Tait (13.1 points/game) and freshman Jordan Arreola (12.2 points/game) bring offensive depth to coach Tyler Newton's squad. This is Butte's first-ever appearance in the state championship in program history.
The CCCAA State Championship will take place on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at West Hills College Lemoore. Live streaming of the game can be found at www.baosn.tv.