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Pirates remain clutch

OCC pulls out fourth OT win of season, its sixth one-point victory, to advance to regional semifinals on Saturday.

March 02, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — This just might be the Orange Coast College women's basketball team that helps Coach Mike Thornton reach the 500-victory plateau. If it doesn't kill him first.

Freshman reserve Sami Little nailed a three-pointer with three seconds left in regulation to force overtime and the pulsating Pirates went on to claim a 62-61 triumph in the quarterfinals of the Southern California Regional playoffs Wednesday at OCC.

OCC (24-8), the No. 5 seed in the regional, will play host to No. 9-seeded Cypress in Saturday's semifinals at 7 p.m. Cypress (20-10) upset top-seeded Fullerton, the No. 1-ranked team in the state, 61-57, in overtime Wednesday.

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Sophomore Alyssa Hanson sank the first of two free throws with five seconds left in overtime, then stole the ball in the backcourt on Riverside's ensuing possession to clinch the Pirates' sixth one-point victory of the season. Included in the single-point victims were Riverside and Cypress (twice each).

"Somebody is living right in this program and it's definitely not me," said Thornton, who is 499-218 in his 22 seasons at the helm. "We're 6-1 in one-point games this season and that was our fourth overtime win. It has been an incredible journey to say the least."

Sophomore Samantha Hansen paced the Pirates with 25 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots. She made a three-point play with 1:01 left in overtime to give the hosts a 60-58 advantage.

Little made the first of two foul shots with 20 seconds left, but Riverside's Heather Wohlk drained a three-pointer with 10 seconds left to knot the score once again.

Hanson was fouled near the free-throw line on the ensuing possession and, like one of several Pirates throughout the campaign, she came through when it mattered most.

"I guess it has been consistent and happened so many times, you can't say we're just fortunate," said Thornton, who was still quivering with adrenaline several moments after the final buzzer. "We have people who make big plays."

Hansen, a 6-foot first-team All-Orange Empire Conference forward, made the most big plays for the winners. She made six of her eight first-half field-goal attempts and made her final four field-goal tries of regulation. She was 11 for 18 from the field, despite being the target of defensive focus that included constant double-teams.

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