Saddleback opened the Bill Brummel Classic on Thursday night with a 64-40 win over MiraCosta College at the Saddleback Gymnasium. The ninth straight win puts the Gauchos into the tournament semifinals on Friday night.
Saddleback was slow out of the gate, struggling from the field for the first 20 minutes in taking a 24-18 lead into the locker room. The Gauchos shot just 30% in the first half with Conor Clifford leading the way with seven points and six rebounds.
As much as the offense struggled, however, the defense was suffocating. The Gauchos enjoyed a big size advantage and made it work, blocking four shots in the first 20 minutes and holding the Spartans to 25% shooting.
Saddleback made a run to start the second half, scoring the first 10 points in opening up a 34-18 lead. MiraCosta didn't score a point for the first four minutes of the second half as the Gauchos opened up a convincing lead.
Clifford finished with 15 points and nine rebounds and led Saddleback in both categories despite missing a number of easy baskets. When Clifford wasn't on the court, twin tower Kyle Hoag was a physical presence inside, scoring six points while collecting seven rebounds and blocking three shots.
Saddleback advanced to the semifinals where they will face Los Angeles Trade Tech. The Beavers were a 61-52 winner over Fullerton College. Tip time is set for 7:00 PM.
The other semifinal will feature Long Beach City College and Chaffey College at 5:00 PM.
All games can be seen on the Gaucho Sports Network for a $10 daily fee.