Brittany Garcia came through down the stretch Thursday night, so Hancock College’s women’s basketball team won its first game in its own tournament.
Garcia helped the Bulldogs put away Las Positas by making two foul shots with 34.7 seconds left. Her free throws were Hancock points 62 and 63 as the Bulldogs downed the Hawks 66-61 in the first round of the Lady Bulldog Classic at Hancock’s Joe White Memorial Gymnasium.
“Our coach (Sheri Bates) is adamant about making free throws in practice,” Garcia said afterward. Hancock has had some horrendous performances at the foul line this year, but Garcia was six-for-eight on foul shots Thursday night.
“Free throw shooting has gone pretty well for me this year,” the 5-10 freshman said. It went well enough for Hancock (2-7) to overcome the Hawks (1-6).
Hancock was 17-for-33 from the foul line to the Hawks’ 9-for-17.
In other first-round games, East Los Angeles beat Cuesta 54-43, Oxnard rallied past Saddleback 63-61 and Monterey Peninsula downed San Diego Mesa 64-53.
The winner’s bracket tournament schedule calls for East Los Angeles to play Oxnard at 5 p.m. today and for Monterey Peninsula to take on Hancock at 7. The Lobos beat the Bulldogs in the tournament last year.
The consolation bracket schedule calls for Cuesta and Saddleback to play at 1 p.m. and San Diego Mesa to play Las Positas at 3.
After Garcia’s two free throws put Hancock ahead 63-58 with 34.7 seconds left, Trina Torrence drained a three-point shot for the Hawks to make it 63-61 with 28 seconds to play. However, Denee Lane and Ashley Bonenfant (16 points on 5-for-18 shooting from the field) each sank a foul shot for Hancock thereafter, and the Hawks came up empty on their last two possessions.
Garcia scored twice on tough shots in the lane in the last three minutes. She also made a big defensive play.
Hancock led 61-58 when Hawks guard Stefahnie Montanez drove down the lane. Garcia held her ground, Montanez missed the shot, and Garcia grabbed the rebound.
“I knew she would drive for the basket — she always does,” Garcia said. “I just wanted to help our guards out — she was beating our guards to the basket.
“Our coach drills us on that kind of defense. She’s very good at making adjustments.”
Marreesha Lynch scored a game high 17 points for the Hawks. Their offense slowed down when the burly 5-7 sophomore fouled out with 4:57 left.
Jozza Ray scored 13 points for Hancock and made some timely baskets. With the Bulldogs floundering against the Hawks zone, Ray nailed a three-pointer from the right corner to put Hancock ahead for good, 55-54, with four minutes left.
Chrissy Bessermin gave the Bulldogs tough and strong inside play. She scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Regina Williams had seven rebounds for Hancock as well. Several of those were timely ones.
Crystal Florida scored 11 points for the Hawks. Montanez had 10. Florida and Montanez snared 15 and 11 rebounds respectively.
Hancock had 11-point leads twice in the first half, but the Hawks rallied. Montanez made a driving layup to give the Livermore-based team its last lead, 54-52 with 4:12 to play.
East L.A. 54, Cuesta 43
The Huskies (6-3) roared to a 38-14 halftime lead and then held off the Cougars (3-6).
East L.A. buried eight 3-point shots. Cuesta made two.
DaChell McBride led the Huskies with 14 points. Diana Barrios had 12. Barrios made half of her 10 shots from the field.
Jayme Salim, Raleigh O’Brien and Valerie Gee all scored 10 points for the Cougars.
Oxnard 63, Saddleback 61
The Gauchos (5-5) held small leads most of the second half but the Condors (7-2) finally overhauled them.
Arlene Cortez took Rose Nichols’ pass and made a driving layup to put Oxnard ahead 59-58 with 1:45 to play. Danika Edwards buried two free throws for a 63-58 Condors lead with 8.6 seconds left.
Brittany Solomon threw in a long three-point shot for the Gauchos with 2.5 seconds left, but Shaniqua Perkins corralled the long inbounds pass to secure the win.
Stephanie Hernandez led Oxnard with 12 points. Nichols scored 11, and Cortez and Coco Bradley scored 10 apiece.
Johnondra Patterson scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Gauchos, who lost the ball three straight times after leading 55-48 with 5:48 left. Audri Sargent and Solomon scored 11 and 10 points respectively for Saddleback.
Monterey Peninsula 64, San Diego Mesa 53
Rochelle Welsh scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to help the Lobos move to the winner’s bracket.
Annette Ruvalcaba put in 12 points for Monterey Peninsula. Cathleen Cruz scored a game high 20 points for San Diego Mesa.
San Diego Mesa coach Michael Hootner drew a technical foul when he argued with the referee after the Olympians’ Yesenia Dela Rosa was injured.
Victor Valley 72, Hancock 67 (OT)
The Bulldogs trailed 39-29 at the half, in their opener of the Santa Barbara City College Tournament, but came roaring back in the second to tie the score at 59-all at the end of regulation.
Chris Dugan led the Bulldogs cause with 20 points, followed by Jordan Vina with 14.
Hancock plays the loser of the Oxnard - L.A. Valley game today at 3 p.m. in a consolation semi-final.