Five players walked into the San Jose City College gymnasium Dec. 28-29 knowing there was no chance to rest as there was no one available on the bench of the Pasadena City College women's basketball team. The Lancers didn't let the empty bench dilemma get in their way as they recovered from a last-second loss to Feather River on Dec. 27 and some how beat both College of the Redwoods and College of San Mateo to capture the consolation title of the Lady Jaguar Invitational.
PCC (11-7 overall) entered the tourney with six active players, but lost starter Merina Latu to an injury in the third quarter of the opening game. The "Fab Five" as head coach Joe Peron called it was the grouping of sophomore point guard Samaiyah Abdullah, letterman forward Alisa Shinn, first-year center Mercy Odima, freshman reserve forward Tatianna Shoals and frosh guard Jade Lin.
The short-handed Lancers got a career-best performance by Abdullah, who doubled her highest scoring output as a Lancer in two seasons with 25 points, but lost to Feather River, 54-51. PCC led 14-7 after one quarter and 21-17 by halftime. In the fourth quarter, the Golden Eagles jumped ahead 48-44 but Abdullah drained back-to-back 3-point bombs to give PCC a 50-48 lead with 41 seconds remaining.
Abdullah's heroics happened as PCC had just four players left on the floor after Odima fouled out with two minutes left. Brenna Chavez drilled the winning 3-pointer with three seconds to go that allowed NorCal's No. 10-rated FRC to send Pasadena to the loser's bracket for the first time in six tournaments.
Shinn tallied 11 points and 13 rebounds while Odima added nine points, 14 boards, five steals and five blocks.
In the consolation semifinals, PCC recovered from a slow start to beat Redwoods, 74-55. PCC trailed 10-2, 13-5, and 16-7 before rallying, eventually taking the lead for good at 25-23 on a Shinn layup 3:15 into the second quarter. The All-South Coast Conference post player had 14 points and 11 rebounds by halftime and she made a rare 3-pointer in the third quarter that built PCC's lead to 59-40.
Shinn put on a clinic, making eight straight shots at one point, finishing with 31 points and 18 rebounds. Odima also performed a rare 20-20 as she matched her season scoring high with 20 points and collected a season-high 24 rebounds (15 on the offensive end). Odima added five assists. Lin tallied 12 points (three treys) and Abdullah contributed 11 points and six assists.
The consolation final went from a blowout to a thriller that was decided on Lin's free throw with 6.1 seconds left that gave PCC the fifth place trophy in a 69-68 triumph over San Mateo. Abdullah again showed long-range ability when she knocked down consecutive 3s that gave the Lancers a commanding 34-16 lead late in the second quarter. At that point, Peron was concerned about keeping Odima out of foul trouble (two fouls at the time) and chose to pull her out of the game to create another 4-on-5 situation. For three brief seconds, CSM looked confused and had also only four on the floor before finally entering its fifth player. Odima rested for three minutes and San Mateo clawed away to cut the PCC lead to 36-27 by halftime.
With a tired PCC Fab Five to start the third quarter, the Bulldogs grabbed the momentum anyway and took a 66-63 lead with 48 seconds left. Lin though responded with a 3-pointer that tied it with 33 seconds left. A San Mateo basket tied it again, 68-68, with 10 seconds to go but Lin raced up the floor and drew a foul going to the basket. She missed the front end of the two shots, but sank the second for the game-winning point.
Lin (South Pasadena High) finished with 11 points and six assists. Shinn recorded a 20-20 herself with 27 points and 21 rebounds (plus five assists and three blocks). Abdullah had another big scoring output on 19 points, including 4-for-9 beyond the 3-point circle, while Odima picked up All-SJCC Tournament honors with 12 points, 17 rebounds and four assists. Shoals played strong defense in all three the games, but did not score a point at the tourney.
"The Fab Five played amazing," Peron said. "They did a great job of preserving themselves to play 40 minutes for virtually three games and not fouling out the last two games. We had ups and downs including that Feather River game when they made the big baskets late. But to come back and then win twice and come home with a trophy is remarkable. Those ladies played with heart and showed tremendous endurance."
Odima currently leads the state in total offensive rebounds (106) and OR average at 5.9 per game. She is second in the state in overall rebounds (231) and Shinn is third (229). In PCC history going into the 2017-18 season, only 13 times did a Lancer reach 20 or more rebounds. The Odima-Shinn combo have accomplished the feat five times (three by Mercy) in the team's first 18 games. Shinn has reached 30 points in a game three times this season. Only three players previously reached as many 30-point performances in PCC Hall of Famers Tiana Sanders (six) and Dionne Pounds (four) and one-time All-State player Biljana Bosanac (five).
PCC opens the new year and returns home on Friday, Jan. 5 with a SCC crossover game v. Cerritos College. Tip-off is 6 p.m. at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.