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College women’s basketball: COC has upper hand

Cougars defeat depleted Citrus College team

Posted: January 13, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 13, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Hope Smith (45) shoots and scores against Nicole Zugasti (24) of Citrus College at College of the Canyons on Saturday. COC won 68-54.

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The College of the Canyons women’s basketball team knew it was taking on a depleted Citrus College squad on Saturday evening at College of the Canyons.

But it also knew that it couldn’t take its foot off the pedal just because Fighting Owls’ leading scorers Olivia Montgomery and Ella Rodriguez were limited with injuries.

And the Cougars proved it on Saturday, jumping out to an early lead en route to a 68-54 victory.

Canyons took a 12-9 lead on a 3-point shot by Keiona Matthews with 13:34 remaining in the first half, and never trailed again.

“We came out and executed a little better than we normally do,” said College of the Canyons head coach Greg Herrick.

COC entered the game against Citrus on a three-game losing streak, including a 74-60 loss to L.A. Valley College on Jan. 9 in a game Canyons led 36-30 at halftime.

Hope Smith led College of the Canyons against Citrus with a team-high 16 points, while Shawn Kolani scored 15 and Mathews came off the bench to score 11.

“Shawn Kolani handled the pressure,” Herrick said of his point guard. “She’s not the most physical player, but she’s smart.”

Smith also pulled down eight rebounds, tied with Earnika Clemmons, who posted eight points.

With Rodriguez out and Montgomery playing less than a minute and pulling down just one rebound, the Fighting Owls turned to Nicole Zugasti, who scored a game-high 24 points — 17 of which came in the second half.

Leading 35-17 at the break, Canyons didn’t execute as well defensively in the second frame.

Citrus outscored the Cougars 37-33 in the second, the fourth straight game COC has been outscored in the second half.

“We came off a three-game losing streak. We thought the game was over (leading at halftime),” Herrick said of his team’s letdown.

Still, the Cougars were never in any real danger on Saturday, and now look ahead to Wednesday, when they host Bakersfield at 7 p.m., looking to keep their momentum going.

“We have higher expectations than just winning one game,” Herrick said after the game.

jstein

@signalscv.com

661-287-5536

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