(Walnut, CA) After trailing by 10 points in the first half, the Mt. SAC Women's Basketball Team mounted a furious comeback, but eventually fell to the visiting El Camino Warriors, 66-59 Wednesday night (1/9) in the South Coast Conference Crossover Challenge Tournament blue bracket semifinals.
Trailing by 17 points, 41-24 with 6:12 left in the third quarter, the Mounties went on a 17-8 run to end the quarter and trailed by eight points (49-41) entering the final period.
They continued the run halfway through the fourth quarter with an 8-3 advantage to trail by only three, 52-49 with 5:12 left in the game.
The Warriors held strong and never let the Mounties take a lead and advanced to the first-ever SCC Challenge championship game in the blue bracket.
El Camino will play East Los Angeles and Mt. SAC will play College of the Canyons in a third-place game on Friday (1/11) at Cerritos College. Game time is 4:00 pm.
Freshman guard Natalia Shpegel (6 for 15 FGM, 10-13 FTM, 8 RB, 4 Stls.) led the Mounties with 23 points. The only other Mountie in double figures was sophomore forward Kiara Stiger (4-4 FTM, 4 RB, 2 Stls.) with 12 points.
"We were down in the first half and after a good talk in the locker room (at the half) we came back in the second half", Shpegel said. "I tried to do my best for the team."
"I'm confident that we will succeed in conference, but I believe that we need a lot more work and a lot more discipline."
Salihah Bey had a game-high 25 points for the Warriors.
"You're battle-tested heading into conference," Mt. SAC women's basketball coach Brian Crichlow said. "When our conference is a gauntlet, with four of the top-ten teams in the state in the conference, these games that we play will give us some insight on what we will be facing in a few weeks (playoffs)."
"It's a great idea by Steve (Shaw), who is the head coach at El Camino, It's a great tune-up for our competitive conference play."
"The match-ups include some of the top teams in the south region and we are really excited to be a part of this event."
Breaking into the starting lineup starting in the Fullerton tourney in late December was freshman guard Alexis Sanchez, who has run the floor for the Mounties.
"It took a while to get in the starting position, but I'm trying," Sanchez said. "In the first half we were missing rebounds and weren't making extra passes."
"In the second half in our comeback, we'd make the extra pass and every time their (forwards) would come at us we would make that extra pass to our (forwards) and make the layups."
Crichlow was complementarily of the hard work of Sanchez.
"Alexis is tough as nails. Her hard work has got her in that position and she has been managing the team and playing her position and getting everyone else in position."
After the game on Friday, the Mounties will play their first of three road games in conference, beginning at state No. 5-ranked L.A. Trade-Tech on Wednesday January 23. Mt. SAC is currently ranked No. 12 in California.
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For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.4630.