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Rally comes up short

Women's Basketball

Pirates erase 22-point deficit in second half, gain lead, then allow winning basket with a lapse.

December 17, 2011|By Barry Faulkner

COSTA MESA — Sometimes, the one thing you haven't tried, the one thing that is least likely to work, can be the magic bullet.

The Orange Coast College women's basketball team came up one shot shy of completing a second-half comeback that was as unlikely as it was astounding Saturday night.

But in the end, Coach Mike Thornton and his Pirates were left wondering if a 66-65 loss to College of the Canyons in the semifinals of the Erin Tomlinson Coast Christmas Classic at OCC may at least serve as a reset button on a mediocre season to this point.

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OCC, which Thornton said played about as poorly as it could in all facets of the game for the first 20 minutes, then saw things get worse early after intermission. OCC trailed, 60-38, with 11:48 left to a team known for running up the score.

It was then that Thornton, against his better judgment and, quite frankly having tried almost everything else, finally challenged his players to deploy full-court, man-to-man pressure.

"We really got into them at halftime and we went to a defense that we didn't think we could play against a quick, athletic team like [Canyons]," Thornton said. "And then all of a sudden, we did a good job and I was really, really surprised that they didn't handle it as well as they could have.

"Canyons probably leads the state in scoring every year and their goal is to basically get 100 points a game. The common thought is, if you press them, you're in trouble. But at that point, we were reaching to try to get something to turn it around. And the kids responded and played hard."

Did they ever.

OCC (6-7) held the Cougars (9-4) without a field goal for more than 10 minutes, and rolled off a 27-4 run that gave the Pirates a 65-64 advantage with 2:44 left.

But after a steal and a missed layup by OCC sophomore Jordyn Terukina, who led the hosts with four steals, Canyons guard Amanda Ajdari got behind the defense, caught an over-the-top pass and scored an uncontested layup to regain the lead with 1:43 left.

OCC missed shots on its next two possessions, but got the ball back and called timeout with 20 seconds left.

All five OCC players handled the ball on the ensuing possession, which ended with the ball in the hands of Ashley Engeln, who had a team-best 19 points. The 5-foot-7 sophomore squared up and launched a three-point attempt from a few feet beyond the top of the key with four ticks remaining. But Casey Scheller, a 5-9 freshman, blocked the shot and Canyons collected the rebound as time expired.

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