The Hancock College women scored the first eight points Thursday, and Tashara Pruett and Willow Bailey helped make sure the Bulldogs stayed ahead.
Orange Coast College simply couldn't hit shots consistently, and Bailey (11 defensive rebounds) and Pruett (nine) helped make sure the Pirates had a lot of one-shot possessions. Besides, Pruett was an important presence in the lane on offense, and host Hancock won this first-round Lady Bulldog Classic game 60-44 at Hancock's Joe White Gymnasium.
The Bulldogs are 5-2. The Pirates are 0-5. Hancock will play unbeaten College of the Siskiyous at 5 p.m. Friday in a championship bracket game. Orange Coast will play Los Angeles Harbor College at 1 p.m. that day in the consolation bracket.
In other first-round games, Siskiyous defeated L.A. Harbor 109-74, Merritt College edged Santa Ana College 44-40 and Glendale Community College downed Santa Barbara City College 65-55.
Bailey led the Bulldogs in rebounds Thursday with 12. Pruett had 10.
The Orange Coast defenders caught on rather quickly that the Bulldogs were having a terrible time with their outside shooting (3-for-19 for the game on 3-point tries) and tried to force Hancock to shoot strictly from the outside.
Thus, the Bulldogs needed someone who could score consistently in traffic in the lane. Pruett was that someone. Often having to muscle her shots up against tight pressure, Pruett scored 11 points on five-for-seven shooting in the paint.
"I knew I would have to make those shots," Pruett said. "It got a little physical."
"Tashara is our go-to player inside," said Hancock point guard Danielle Morgan.
Hancock coach Cary Nerelli said, "I thought Tashara Pruett was a huge presence inside on offense for us tonight. We struggled from the perimeter more than usual.
"Willow Bailey did a good inside, too. Their play inside saved our bacon."
Morgan led the Hancock scoring with 19 points. Consistently working her way free inside for scores in the first half, Morgan had 15 points then. Morgan had 10 rebounds for the game.
Tawny Lino went 6-for-17 from the field, but she did score 14 points for the Bulldogs.
Hancock withstood a huge game by Orange Coast guard Jalisa Simons. Simons was the leading scorer (27 points) and rebounder (13 reboounds) in this one.
After leading 34-27 at halftime, the Bulldogs were able to cool Simons off in the second half, though. Simons had 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting from the floor in the first half. She shot just two-for-11 after the break.
"We started playing off her a little more," said Morgan. "We didn't want to get all up in her so she could drive to the basket."
Orange Coast shot just 18-for-63 from the floor, including 3-for-24 from 3-point range. However, the Pirates drove to the basket on the Bulldogs far too often for Nerelli's liking.
"Our one-on-one defense has got to improve if we're going to be a factor in our conference," he said.
"The match-up (zone defense) can only take you so far. If your individual defense breaks down, you're vulnerable against anyone."
Raelyn Denson went four-for-18 from the floor, but she finished with 10 points for the Pirates.
Orange Coast shot an abysmal 5-for-13 on free throws. Hancock was even worse.
Bailey made both her foul shots. The rest of the team was a combined 1-for-10 on free throws.
Both teams have been hit hard by injuries. Orange Coast suited up six players. Hancock suited up nine.
Siskiyous 109, L.A. Harbor 74
Yep, the Eagles (5-0) went over the 100-point mark. Siskiyous went way over, in fact.
Though none of them matched the game-high 40 points for Harbor's Katlelyn Martin, all five Siskiyous starters scored in double figures.
Natalie Karlsson poured in 32 points for Siskiyous. Aleia Milano put in 20 points, Kacey Cain and Lynden Harry had 13 apiece and Ashley Cox scored 10.
Brion Turner scored 10 points for the Seahawks (4-5).
Both teams put up a lot of shots and made a lot. Siskiyous made half of its 84 shots. Harbor was 28-for-61.
Siskiyous was 18-for-35 on 3-point shots. Harboer was 14-for-34.
Merritt 44, Santa Ana 40
The Ti-Birds (2-6) moved into the championship bracket with a win over the Dons (3-6). Merritt will play Glendale at 7 p.m. Friday.
Markalah Hadley and Dominique Seymore scored 14 and 12 points respectively for Merritt. Lexi Ross led Santa Ana with 11 points.
After a Santa Ana turnover with Merritt up 42-40, Hadely took the in-bounds pass with 7.4 seconds left and nearly dribbled out the clock. The Dons finally fouled her with 1.2 seconds left.
Santa Ana still had a foul to give, Emony Hill got the inbounds pass in to Hadley, and the Dons had to foul her again, with 0.4 left. Hadley made both free throws.
The Dons will play Santa Barbara at 3 p.m. Friday in the consolation bracket.
Glendale 65, Santa Barbara CC 55
Cheyenne Jankulovski popped in 28 points and Sylvia Vartazarian added 10 as Glendale (6-1) won the battle of the Vaqueros moved into the championship bracket.
Jankulovic made 10 of her 12 shots from the floor. Vartazarian made all five of hers.
Jennae Mayberry and Aaliyqh Paulding scored 10 points each for Santa Barbara (6-2).
San Marcos 37, Santa Maria 35
The Royals saw the Saints (2-4) erase an early deficit to go ahead then rallied for a non-league win at Santa Maria's Wilson Gym.
Letitia Romero snapped a 35-all tie for the Royals by sinking a free throw. She made another one later for the final point.
Iceis McNutt scored the bulk of her nine points as the Saints made their first surge to the front, but the Saints couldn't hold the lead.
Janet Cossio led the Santa Maria scoring with 10 points.
San Luis Obispo Tournament
Cupertino 46, St. Joseph 43
Sahana Krishnamurthy scored 18 points and the Pioneers edged the Knights (1-6) in a tournament game at San Luis Obispo.
Natalie Reynsoso scored 15 points for St. Joseph, Maddie Miller added 12 and Corey Fowler had 10.
Santa Maria 8, Atascadero 0
Five Saints scored as Santa Maria (4-0-0) stayed perfect on the season with a non-league win at Santa Maria's Ralph Baldiviez Stadium.
The start was delayed about 20 minutes because of a power failure.
San Luis Obispo 3, Santa Ynez 1
The Tigers garnered a non-lleague win over the Pirates (1-3-1) at San Luis Obispo. No details were available.