The Lancers men’s basketball team picked up their first playoff victory in ten years with a triumph over Saddleback College Saturday.
After last qualifying for the postseason a decade ago, the 12th-seeded Lancers won a defensive struggle, upsetting the No. 5 Gauchos 53-49 to advance to the third round of the Southern California Regional Playoffs.
“We just played as one,” sophomore forward Taj Spencer said. “Everyone contributed to the win and that’s what it’s all about. If we’re going to win a championship it has to be a team effort.”
The Lancers (21-9) will travel to play No. 4 Chaffey College (26-5) in the quarterfinals. Chaffey defeated No. 13 San Diego City in an 80-76 close victory on Friday.
The victory over Saddleback (24-6) was the first time a Lancers’ team won a road playoff game in 20 years. The last time the Lancers won a road playoff game was when they were a 13th seed and defeated both Southwestern and Cypress in the 1994 regionals.
“There was a lot of excitement throughout the team,” sophomore guard Jeffrey Dockett said. “We won the game because of our defense and our pressure. We played good defense and didn’t allow them to get many points inside.”
The Lancers began the game with an early 14-4 lead, but the Gauchos came back to take the 24-22 lead at halftime. In the second half, Saddleback jumped out to a 37-26 lead with 12:02 left, but the Lancers would not go down without a fight.
Freshman guard Jevon Shields hit his only basket of the game on a 3-pointer which helped start a 9-0 Lancer run.
“We played great defense on the perimeter and forced them [Saddleback] to shoot from the outside,” Shields added. “We’re going to go back and watch tape and see how we can improve our defense and get ready for the next game.”
The teams traded baskets until Dockett hit a jumper and picked up a foul, making the free throw to give the Lancers the lead for good, 51-49, with 28 seconds remaining.
The Lancers were led in scoring by freshman guard Adrian Miles with 14 points, including three 3-point field goals. Second-year forward Rashad Smith added 12 points and sophomore forward Taj Spencer added 10 points, despite being in foul trouble.