The women’s basketball team got over the hump that was Rio Hondo’s late-game push and defeated the Roadrunners, 65-54, in coach Joe Peron’s 50th playoff win to move on to the next round of the SoCal Regional playoffs.
Coming into the game, Pasadena knew Rio Hondo shoots the ball at a high level from behind the arc, averaging 31 percent, and were able to limit them to seven made three-pointers in 30 attempts.
Pasadena did much better in the third quarter of the game, scoring 18 points, compared to last game when they only scored two points.
Point guard Judith Espinoza finished with 17 points and nine assists. She averaged just below five turnovers a game during the regular season but had zero turnovers this game.
“During halftime, he was just saying we knew coming into today that we had to come out really hard in the third quarter,” Espinoza said. “We were just focused and today we really pumped each other up and the coaches helped too. We just knew that we couldn’t let them come back in the third quarter because this is a really important game. Everyone gave it their all and we did what had to be done.”
The Lancers got into foul trouble early in the second half and had the Roadrunners at the free throw line. Unfazed by the comeback attempt, they kept their foot on the gas by playing detailed on the offense and defense.
The Lancers were able to close out on the shooters and kept Rio Hondo from making easy baskets.
Forward Ilianna Blanc sat out the first half last game with two early fouls and wasn’t able to establish a presence. Blanc dominated in the paint and finished with 17 points on 7 for 11 shooting paired with 5 steals and 3 blocks.
“I think we took that to a big advantage to get it to the post because we had game film on them and we knew they didn’t have a big presence so we knew that we needed to work the inside out,” Blanc said. “We knew they are a shooting team so our first goal was to not let them shoot and once we shut them down, they wanted to drive. This whole week we’ve been working on defense … I think focusing on that in practice was a really big help.”
Patience Madayag led the bench in points and finished with 8 points along with 5 rebounds.
Ella Stepanian was the third to finish with double digits this game and paired her 14 points with 5 assists and 5 rebounds.
The Lancers spread the ball well and averaged 42 percent from the field and relied more on the inside game rather than their three-pointers.
Pasadena controlled the first half’s momentum by forcing nine turnovers and extended their lead to 10 after the game was tied with six minutes to go.
Though the Roadrunners trimmed the lead to single digits halfway through the fourth quarter, the Lancers kept their focus on defense.
“We had that focality working. It was a lot better this game and I’m glad that we stayed with it for four quarters,” Peron said. “Our lapses were for two minutes rather than for 10 minutes. I was impressed, happy, and proud of them.”
The Lancers have a chance to upset in their second round game on Saturday Feb. 27 at No. 3 Ventura College. The two teams have a split record against each other.