The Saddleback men's basketball team opened the Riverside Holiday Tournament with a 72-62 win over a solid East Los Angeles College squad on Wednesday in Riverside. The Gauchos got hot from the outside after a so-so first half.
Saddleback trailed at the intermission as East Los Angeles shot well from the outside over the opening 20 minutes to take a 24-23 lead into the locker rom. The second half was a completely different story as the Gauchos were the ones doing the damage from beyond the arc, led by Jake Hawes and T.J. Shorts. The two combined for 34 second-half points, making 5-of-6 from three-point range. Hawes was 4-for-5 from beyond the arc in scoring 14 points over the final 20 minutes while Shorts was virtually unstoppable, scoring 20 points in the second half on way to a game-high 27.
Hawes came off the bench to score 20 points in the game in just 14 minutes of play. The freshman from St. George (UT) made 6-of-9 from three point range for the game in igniting the Saddleback offense. Shorts made a living at the free throw line down the stretch, making all seven free throws in the second half as the Gauchos caught fire.
Saddleback took the lead for good when Hawes buried a three-pointer with 14:06 remaining to give the Gauchos a 35-32 lead. It was part of a 13-0 run that the Huskies would never recover from. Saddleback increased the lead to as many as 14 after Justin Faison slammed home a dunk at the 8:59 mark. The Huskies would never get within eight over the remainder of the game.
Saddleback is now 8-2 to start the season and will play in the tournament semifinals on Thursday in Riverside. The Gauchos will face the winner of Fullerton College and Mt. San Jacinto College at 5:00 PM.