Strong second half seals victory
Defense retains lead over Eagles, crushes offense
Published: Monday, February 17, 2014
Updated: Monday, February 17, 2014 16:02
Throughout the game, Contra Costa College was able to control the rebounding battle en route to an 84-68 win against Mendocino College’s women’s basketball team Friday in the Gymnasium.
“This is a very important game,” Eagles coach Jodi Steliga said pre-game. “The Comets are a quality team, and a win tonight is valuable for us to close the gap from third and second place in the Bay Valley Conference.”
“Both these teams are coming off a loss,” Steliga said. “CCC lost to Napa and we lost to Solano last week, so both of our egos are a little hurt — we just have to wait and see who responds first tonight.”
“We are itching to get a quality win on the road,” she said.
CCC (9-3 in BVC, 17-7 overall) remains in second place beneath a Solano Community College (13-0 BVC, 22-4 overall) team that has yet to be beaten in conference play.
After defeating the third place Eagles (7-6 BVC, 12-10 overall), the Comets extended their margin over Mendocino to three games with less than a handful of games remaining on the schedule.
“We are now three games ahead of the third place team with only four games left in the season,” women’s basketball coach Paul DeBolt said post-game. “With this win tonight, we pretty much clinched the post season — but nothing is certain.”
For Mendocino, this loss possibly means the end of its playoff berth dream. “At this point I don’t know if we have a chance at the post-season,” Steliga said post-game.
CCC scored first with a layup by guard Joie Wyatt, dribbling past three defenders to score on a break, after forcing a turnover.
Seconds later, Mendocino responded when sophomore guard Crystal Cervantes found the net from a distance to tally three points.
The Comets played solid defensively by closing down space in the paint and forcing the Eagles to take shots from a distance.
Guards Raven Caldwell, Jewel Rogers and Joie Wyatt dominated the key, grabbing rebounds, which transitioned into fast break layups or forced Mendocino fouls. MC had 10 fouls by the end of the half to the Comets’ three.
CCC went 9-13 in free throws during the first half, and tallied three 3-pointers when the Eagle defense locked down in the key.
Mendocino made two 3-pointers and two field goals at a slower tempo.
With 15 minutes left on the clock in the first half the teams were deadlocked 10-10. This was the pivotal moment of the game. CCC forced three consecutive turnovers under its own net to score each time.
The Comets harnessed this offensive momentum to maintain a slim lead for the remainder of the game.
The first half ended 39-36. The Eagles offensive efforts by Cervantes and guard Jaylen Wilson kept the pressure on the Comets’ defense.
“They are a good team. They kept us pushing up and down the court,” Caldwell said. “But that’s our style of play so it was no problem for us.”
Both teams opened the second half of play with 3-pointers from Caldwell and MC guard Kaleigh Lincoln. At this point, however, the Mendocino defense was unable to beat CCC’s offensive players in the air to win the rebound.
This gave CCC a second chance at close range to extend the lead. Multiple times the Comets scored on second chance shot attempts. In some instances, different CCC players grabbed offensive rebounds up to three times in a possession to finally score.
“We needed to win more rebounds,” Steliga said. “We gave them too many second opportunities.”
Fourteen minutes remained and CCC’s fast-paced offense began to gain more momentum because of solid defensive coverage in the key that forced turnovers.
With 11 minutes left before the final buzzer, CCC extended its lead to eight points, 60-52.
With five minutes left, Mendocino trailed 70-58.
“We have a very aggressive style of play — offensively we wear teams down,” DeBolt said. “It’s what we do and our next game against Los Medanos will be no different.”