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COC hoops finds a quick escape

The Lady Cougars out-run opponent on way to Southern Cal. region final

Posted: February 28, 2009 2:08 a.m.
Updated: February 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
The College of the Canyons' women's basketball team edged out Mt. San Jacinto Friday night at the Cougar Cage 81-77 in the Southern California South Region Semifinals.

Close throughout, the lead was never more than seven points as the Cougars (24-8) were able to keep the tempo up and knock their free throws down late in the game.

"I forgot how to coach there for a while," said College of the Canyons head coach Greg Herrick. "We haven't been in a close game in more than a month."

COC sophomore guard and Hart graduate Britney Bradley scored five points in the final minute of the game, including three crucial free throws that kept the Eagles (23-9) at bay.

"I just got in the zone," said Bradley. "I thought, ‘I can't miss. I have to hit them all.'"

Bradley finished the game with 16 points, eight rebounds, six assists, a block and a steal.

However, the Cougars also had to withstand Eagles guard Danielle Smith, who poured in 30 points off 12-of-31 shooting.

Smith came into the contest posting 19.2 points per game.

"I told the kids, if we hold Smith to 10 points, we'd win," Herrick said. "Man, that was wishful thinking."

The only other Eagle in double figures was Brandie McCann with 19 points.

The Cougars pushed the pace all night and eventually the Mt. San Jacinto tandem wore down.

"It is probably my fault that I let the game play so fast," said Eagles head coach Chris Mozga. "That's where (the Cougars) like to play."

COC sophomore Charity Smith recorded a double-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds and two assists.

"It was definitely physical," Smith said of the game in the low post. "More physical than I've had in a while."

Cougars guard Arielle White led the team with 19 points while Ashley Wakefield put in 12 with eight boards.

In the first half, COC built a quick lead before the two teams began to trade buckets.

Midway through the frame, the two teams appeared to try to one-up each other, exchanging 3-pointers and cutting layups.

The Cougars held the advantage until 1:12 left in the first half when McCann drained a 3-pointer.

Regardless, COC went into the break with a three-point advantage, up 42-39.

The Eagles came out on fire in the second half, playing to their strengths.

Slowing the pace down to a half-court game, Mt. San Jacinto went on a 9-2 run, taking their biggest and final lead of the night at 48-44.

However, coming out of a timeout, the Cougars picked up the pressure and the attack and proceeded to outrun their opponent.

"I think they got tired at the end," Herrick said. "We tried to keep the pace up."

With the win, COC earns a date on March 7 with the winner of Ventura and Citrus.

"We hope we play Citrus because we've beat them twice," Bradley said. "But, we'll be ready for Ventura."

If Ventura wins, the Cougars will hit the road for the region final matchup.

Should Citrus pull out the upset of the No. 2 team in the bracket, COC will host.


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