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COC finds some stability

Lady Cougars win their conference opener

Posted: January 7, 2009 10:20 p.m.
Updated: January 8, 2009 4:30 a.m.

At the start of the season, College of the Canyons women's basketball head coach Greg Herrick was confident his team could duplicate its Western State Conference success from last season.

But midway through the season personnel changes, injuries and team shake-ups presented an issue for the defending conference champions.

None of that was apparent, however, as the Lady Cougars won their Western State Conference opener, defeating Citrus College 72-65.

After COC (12-8, 1-0) took a commanding 36-20 lead at the end of the first half, the Owls (14-7, 0-1) later made a rally in the second half going on a 12-0 run to tie the Cougars at 42-42.

"At our level there's a surge all the time with good teams," Herrick said. "That's a good team. So we expected them to have a surge. We just didn't respond to it as well. But I thought they ran out of gas when they went on that run and we responded with a couple of good baskets and then maintained the authority."

Leading the Cougars' pack was freshman Ashley Wakefield.

The 5-foot-10-inch guard finished the contest with a game-high 24 points.

Wakefield came alive in the second half to revive the Cougars team and take back the lead.

"I had to do what I had to do to help my team," Wakefield said.

Herrick said it's typical for Wakefield to be the go-to player in sticky situations.

"She may be one of the three best athletes we've had since I've been coaching," Herrick said. "She's quick off the floor and she's very athletic."

COC's Britney Bradley had 13 points, while forward Charity Smith finished with 11 points.

Although the Owls would never take the lead, Citrus would stay on the Cougars' heels for the rest of the game.

The Cougars out-hustled, out-rebounded and ultimately outlasted Citrus.

"We're getting to be where we want to be," Herrick said. "I hope we're stabilized."

Now the Cougars look ahead to another formidable conference opponent, Bakersfield, on Saturday.

Citrus was a good start though.

"We beat the co-favorite for the league and anytime you can scoot someone behind you in the standings then that's a good thing."


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