The Saddleback men's basketball team cruised to a 58-36 win over College of the Canyons in the opening round of the Bill Brummel Classic at the gymnasium on Thursday. The Gauchos closed out the opening half on a 22-2 run in advancing to the semifinals.
Saddleback started slowly and looked lethargic through the first 12 minutes before finding their way. The Gauchos led 20-13 with 7:29 remaining in the half when the roof caved in on the Cougars. Saddleback put the clamps on Canyons defensively, nearly holding the Cougars scoreless the rest of the way. Canyons had one basket at the 5:54 mark, but that would be all the scoring they would do the rest of the half as the Gauchos led 42-15 at the break.
Saddleback took to the outside during the run with Jake Hawes leading the charge. Hawes came off the bench to score 11 points in the half, making 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. T.J. Shorts was a workhorse in the defensive end, finishing the half with five steals while scoring 10 points of his own.
Canyons went scoreless again for nearly the first four minutes of the second half as the lead grew to 30 in the opening minutes. The Gauchos then called off the dogs and emptied the bench over the final 15 minutes. Saddleback went ice cold over the final 10 minutes with mostly reserves on the court. Despite it all, Canyons could never get within 20 points.
Hawes finished with a team-high 14 points while Shorts had 12. Saddleback held a 42-33 advantage in rebounds in the game over the Cougars, with Breaon Brady leading the way with seven.
Saddleback will play MiraCosta College in the tournament semifinals. Tip time is scheduled for 7:00 PM. The other semifinal will feature Mt. San Jacinto College versus Irvine Valley College at 5:00 PM.