The Pasadena City College women's basketball team knew what it was in store for in playing in the state's most powerful league--the 6-team, South Coast Conference North Division. Many of its games have been defensive struggles, which was the case again Friday at Chaffey. PCC was in jeopardy of falling into a fourth-place tie with the Panthers, but ultimately rallied in the fourth quarter for a 51-45 win.
Despite a 3-5 mark in the SCC North and now standing alone in fourth place, the Lancers maintain the state's No. 17 ranking at 19-8 overall.
Chaffey (12-14, 2-6) led 20-14 after one quarter and 28-21 by halftime. Kandace Payne's short bank shot tied it at 35-35 near the end of the third period. PCC took the lead for good, 43-41, with 5:20 left when Ilianna Blanc drove the lane and scored a 10-footer off the glass. In the final minute, the Panthers trailed just 47-45 and kept a stiff defensive zone. But with two seconds left on the shot clock, Blanc swung a nifty pass around Chaffey's center to a wide-open Alisa Shinn for an easy layup and a 4-point cushion that iced the victory.
Shinn was the game's high scorer and the only Lancer in double figures with 11 points (plus eight rebounds). Blanc added eight points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks. Jelissa Puckett was 5-for-6 on free throws as part of her nine points.
Playing without starting center Kailyn Gideon due to injury, the Lancers received big efforts from three players whose contributions were timely in the victory. Payne, starting at forward, had her best game of the season with nine points, eight rebounds and sound defense. Off the bench, guard Julissa Aguirre added seven points and five rebounds while guard Bridget Phu scored five points, including a driving layup that gave PCC a 39-37 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Lancers, who were averaging in the low 70s in scoring going into conference play, are at a 54 points a game clip in SCC North games. Remove their 81-point game in a win over last-place Rio Hondo on Jan. 27 and the team is scoring just 50.6 points average in their other seven league contests.
Next week, Pasadena looks to reach the 20-win mark for the 14th time (but first in three years) under head coach Joe Peron. PCC hosts Rio Hondo on Wednesday, Feb. 15 and then close the regular season at state No. 1-ranked East Los Angeles College on Friday, Feb. 17.