Gauchos heat up for 4-0 start

Gauchos heat up for 4-0 start

The Saddleback men's basketball team improved to 4-0 on Wednesday with a 73-63 win over Southwestern College in their home-opener in the Saddleback Gymnasium.  The Gauchos trailed at the half before catching fire against the Jaguars in the second half.

Saddleback had a forgettable first half, allowing Southwestern to control the tempo and turning the ball over seven times.  Jose Serrano scored 13 points for the Jaguars in the opening 20 minutes as Southwestern carried a 36-31 lead into the locker room.

Saddleback came out with a different attitude in the second frame, quickly slicing away at the lead with defensive pressure leading to easy baskets.  The Gauchos also got a spark from Tyler O'Donnell, who came off the bench to heat up Saddleback from the outside.  O'Donnell (pictured left) nailed his first-of-four, three-pointers with 12:33 remaining to cut the deficit to 45-41.  He connected for a second time with 6:26 remaining to give Saddleback a 58-56 lead.  O'Donnell then drilled a third, two possessions later to give the Gauchos a 61-60 advantage with 5:05 remaining.  His fourth was a backbreaker for Southwestern as it came with 1:24 remaining and gave the Saddleback a 67-60 lead. 

J.J. Overton (pictured middle) had another sensational performance, leading Saddleback with 14 points and 12 rebounds, the latter of which all came in the defensive end.  He also finished with three assists, dishing a pair of times to Arash Poorsina (pictured right) who had his biggest game of the year with 13 points after Shawn Stith was forced to the bench with foul trouble. 

Saddleback finished shooting 56.9% from the field, including 61.5% in the second half.  The Gauchos also made their free throws down the stretch after struggling from the line in the opening 20 minutes of play.

Saddleback is now 4-0 out of the gate, claiming three wins against teams that were ranked in the top-15 in the state in the California Community College Men's Basketball Coaches Association preseason poll.  Southwestern falls to 3-2 overall with the loss.

Saddleback now heads to Utah for two games at the Salt Lake College Tournament.  They open with host Salt Lake College on Friday at 5:00 PM before taking on Snow College on Saturday at 2:00 PM.