The Saddleback men's basketball team won its 21st straight game on Friday night with a 78-43 victory over Orange Coast College at the Saddleback Gymnasium. The Gauchos opened up a big lead in the opening half and cruised past the Pirates.
Saddleback was attempting to finish the Orange Empire Conference with a perfect record for the fifth time in program history. The Gaucho faithful received their wish and didn't have to wait very long, as Saddleback led from start to finish and opened up a 38-19 lead at the intermission.
Saddleback's defense was critical as Orange Coast had no answers in the offensive end. The Gauchos held the Pirates to 29% shooting in the opening half, adding insult to injury by forcing 12 turnovers and outrebounding the Pirates 22-15.
Saddleback had an opportunity to empty out the bench as the starters played very few minutes over the last 15 minutes of the game. The only people not interested in getting home were the officials, who blew a total of 27 fouls over the final 20 minutes.
The crowd erupted when Hayden Fredrick found Stephen Short underneath for an easy basket with 4:41 remaining, giving Saddleback a 69-39 lead. He later found Short open in the corner for a three-pointer with 2:09 remaining to up the lead to 74-41. The duo connected again when Fredrick (pictured) found Short alone down court for another layup with 1:08 remaining as the lead grew to 78-43.
Daniel Young ended up leading the Gauchos in scoring, totaling 15 points by going 9-for-10 from the charity stripe. Young also finished with six rebounds and two blocked shots in 22 minutes of play. In total the Saddleback bench outscored Orange Coast 50-14 on the night.
Saddleback's 21-game winning streak ties the second longest winning streak in Gaucho history. The longest winning streak in program history was in 1979-80 when the Gauchos were 34-0 before losing in the state semifinals.
Saddleback will find out its playoff seed on Monday when the tournament pairings are released. Keep it tuned to saddlebackgauchos.com for all the latest news.