(Walnut, CA) It was an all South Coast Conference championship final in the 23rd Annual Linda G. Smith Memorial Tip-Off Tournament, as Rio Hondo College came from behind in the fourth quarter for a 55-54 win over the Mounties Sunday afternoon.
After winning thirteen consecutive Tip-Off championships, the Mounties (2-1) have fallen in the last two tournament finals in dramatic fashion. Last year it took 3 overtimes in a loss to Long Beach City and Sunday's win by the Roadrunners, the Mounties final shot to win the game fell just short.
"Sometimes you have to get beat to get better," Mt. SAC coach Brian Crichlow said. "It's a learning experience and you never want to lose, but if you're going to lose, do it early."
"Championships (State) are never won in the third game of the season. The road to success is always under construction and right now we're still building the house."
Something lost in the defeat was Crichlow's 250th win in the tournament semifinals on Saturday.
"That's an attribute to all the hard-working players that came through here and bought in to Mt. SAC Women's basketball," Crichlow added. "…..and I was just the recipient."
After building up a nine-point lead at the half, 35-26, Rio Hondo began chipping away at it and eventually tied the Mounties with a minute gone in the fourth quarter, 44-44.
With 29 seconds left in the game and the Roadrunners leading, 55-52, Mt. SAC came within a point after two successful free throws by forward Lauryn Manns (4-7 FTM, 4 Pts.) made it 55-54.
The Mounties had a chance to win the game but a mid-range jumper by forward Jade Hughes just fell short as time expired. Hughes (5-9 FGM, 3-3 FTM, 6 RB) led the Mounties in scoring with 13 points.
Seven players scored for Mt. SAC in the game, including guard Tiana Douglas (2-2 FTM, 10 RB) with 10 points, followed by guard Natalia Shpegel (3-4 FTM, 6 RB) and forward Kiara Stiger (3-5 FTM, 5 RB) with nine points each. Forward Tianna Burrell (1-2 FTM, 3 RB) added seven points. Guard Aujanae Mayes led all players with five steals.
"We have a lot to learn and to build on our chemistry," Burrell said. "It's a good feeling for coach B (for his 250th win), and I know he's happy, but not tonight. A loss is a loss and we just have to learn from it."
Follow Mt. SAC Women's Basketball on twitter @MtSAC_WBKB
For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.4630.