Bobcats claw down Hawks to keep pace
The Saddleback men's basketball team opened the second half of the Orange Empire Conference (OEC) schedule with an 87-77 victory over Santiago Canyon College on Monday night inside the gymnasium. With the win the Bobcats moved into a tie for fourth place in conference play.
Saddleback opened the second half of the conference schedule in fifth place and looking up at a slew of teams within an arms reach. The Bobcats jumped into the middle of the pile after beating Santiago Canyon at their own game.
Saddleback was red hot from the outset and never cooled off, shooting 60.4% from the field and 46.1% from three-point range in turning back Santiago Canyon.
The Bobcats trailed early and took the lead when Jimuel Reyes buried a three-pointer for a 15-12 lead with 14:13 left in the opening frame. Saddleback never trailed again, opening up a 14-point lead on three separate occasions during the opening half. Reyes led all scorers in the half, making 5-of-7 shots from the field to score 12 points in the opening 20 minutes of play.
Santiago Canyon chipped away at the lead and eventually tied the game with 11:40 remaining at 56-56. The Bobcats then turned on the jets and left the Hawks in the dust, scoring 12 of the next 14 points for a 68-58 advantage. Santiago Canyon would get no closer than six the rest of the way as the Bobcats made a flurry of free throws down the stretch to finish off the Hawks.
Reyes finished with a team-high 24 points while James Burries (pictured) came off the bench to score 23 points of his own. The duo was a combined 17-of-25 from the field, including 4-of-7 from long range. Elijah Al-Debaran chipped in 13 points while Nick Bowden finished with 10.
Aaron Wadman led Santiago Canyon with 18 points in a losing effort.
Saddleback is now 13-8 overall and 5-4 in Orange Empire Conference play following the win. The Bobcats are tied with the Hawks and Orange Coast for fourth place following the win, just one game back of both Cypress College and Riverside City College in the standings. Fullerton continues to lead the OEC and has a three-game lead over the second place teams.
Saddleback will look to win a third straight game when they travel to Golden West College on Wednesday night. The Bobcats and Rustlers are scheduled to tip off at 7:00 PM in Huntington Beach.