Irvine Valley Knocks Off Cypress Claiming Outright OEC Women's Basketball Title

Irvine Valley Knocks Off Cypress Claiming Outright OEC Women's Basketball Title

Friday night's showdown for the Orange Empire Conference title with Cypress was a roller coaster ride of a game for the Irvine Valley women's basketball team.

And one that ended with all the thrills and screams of celebration as the Lasers captured their second conference title in a row with a 89-64 victory at home.

The two teams were tied with records of 11-2 heading into Friday's regular season finale.

Irvine Valley, ranked No. 16 in the state, improved to 22-5 overall and 12-2 in conference, while No. 20 Cypress fell to 19-9 overall and 11-3 in conference.

The Lasers made it look easy early, jumping out to a quick 18-4 lead.

IVC went up, 30-9, with 26 seconds left in the opening quarter on a free throw by freshman center Zoe Stachowski.

And the Lasers were up, 30-12, at the end of the period after going 5 of 10 from three-point range and making 7 of 9 free throws.

Freshman guard Anai Washington had 12 points and five rebounds and freshman guard Megan Herrera added 10 points in the first quarter alone.

But Cypress didn't go away. IVC scored the first two points of the second quarter to go up, 32-12, but the Chargers came roaring back.

They went on a 10-0 run and pulled within 32-22 on a layup by Tawni Atenciao with 3:13 left in the first half.

After Washington made a jumper to give Irvine Valley a 34-22 lead, Cypress used an 8-0 run to get within four points.

A layup by Pressila Blanco made it a 34-30 game with 1:04 remaining in the half.

A three-pointer by IVC freshman Kelli Murakami-Hanashiro gave the Lasers some breathing room and then were still up, 39-32, at the half.

The beginning of the third quarter saw Cypress cut back into Irvine Valley's lead. Sara Weber made a three-pointer to get Cypress within 40-36.

And Cypress got to within 50-48 on two free throws by Teresa Torres with 3:13 left in the quarter.

But that was as close as the Chargers would get in the game.

Sophomore guard and team captain hit a big three-pointer with 2:13 to go in the quarter to put IVC up, 53-48.

It was the start of a 12-0 run to close out the quarter and give the Lasers back control.

Herrera and Vail combined for 10 of the 12 points for IVC.

Irvine Valley had a 64-48 lead heading into the fourth quarter and it only grew from there. The Lasers scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to go up, 70-48, with 6:45 to go in the game.

And they led by as many as 30 points at 85-55 after a three-pointer by Herrera with 1:45 remaining.

IVC out-scored Cypress, 50-32, in the second half ended up shooting 50.0 percent (18 of 36) from the field in the final 20 minutes.

Herrera, Washington and Vail all had huge nights.

Herrera ended with 29 points, four assists and four steals in 37 minutes.

Washington had 20 points, 17 rebounds, six assists and five steals in 37 minutes.

And Vail finished with 18 points, six rebounds and 10 assists in 39 minutes.

Murakami-Hanashiro came through with an important 12 points and Stachowski had eight rebounds for the Lasers in the win.

Cypress was led by Blanco's 22 points and seven assists. Weber had nine points and Teresa Torres added eight points and eight rebounds for Chargers.

The Lasers were given the No. 13 seed and will open with a second-round game at No. 4 Mt. San Antonio on Saturday at 7 p.m. Cypress was awarded the No. 14 seed and will host No. 19 Imperial Valley College in Wednesday's first round game at 7 p.m.