After missing six games due to injury, the Pasadena City College women's basketball team welcomed back guard Elise Ortega to the lineup Friday night. And while Ortega only scored one point, the 5-foot-2 freshman was all over the floor, creating turnovers and grabbing rebounds against taller opponents as her tenacious defensive play helped PCC defeat Cerritos, 61-53, at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.
The unranked Lancers won their third straight game to improve to 12-7 while the region's No. 14-rated Falcons fell to 12-8.
Ortega made four steals and grabbed 11 rebounds with two assists as she often disrupted Cerritos' offensive attack and was involved in several loose ball plays. Still, it was Cerritos' Rendon sisters, Jesenia and Serena, who were dropping in 3-point baskets (eight combined) allowing the Falcons to take a 33-27 halftime lead and hold a 48-47 advantage with eight minutes left.
At that point, the Lancers went on a spirited 13-1 run as Alisa Shinn, Mercy Odima and Jade Lin scored a pair of baskets each. Lin buried a 28-foot bomb that brought the biggest ovation from the HP Gym crowd. Lin's driving layup capped the spurt and put the game away at 60-49 with two minutes remaining.
PCC's strong rebounding from both sides of the floor was a major factor as the Lancers outrebounded Cerritos, 56-33. Odima, a freshman center, once again had a brilliant game in the post with a game-high 22 points (9-for-14 from the field) and 14 rebounds (10 offensive) while Shinn, a letterman forward, added 13 points, 13 rebounds (11 defensive), four assists, two steals and two blocks.
Lin finished with 13 points, six rebounds, and three steals while point guard Samaiyah Abdullah had 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals. The starting lineup of Odima, Shinn, Abdullah, Lin and Ortega played nearly the entire game as two bench players combined for nine minutes of action.
Cerritos finished with 11 makes from beyond the 3-point circle as Serena Rendon had 17 points and Jesenia Rendon 13 points.
PCC head coach Joe Peron, who picked up career victory 496, said: "Cerritos was able to get too many open 3s in the first half, but we created some havoc in that second half. Elise, Samaiyah and Jade are smaller kids but their physical play forced Cerritos into some tougher attempts. They also were heads up going hard to beat others for rebounds. We weren't very good offensively except late in the game when Mercy and Alisa finally used their size to get some key baskets. It was big win against a very good team."
The Lancers added Temple City High grad and guard Jacquelyn Luna to the roster prior to the game. She played two minutes in her college debut.
On Friday, Jan. 12, the Lancers will face state No. 18-ranked Long Beach City College in a 3 p.m. SCC crossover game at El Camino College.