No conference in California Community College women's basketball presents a greater challenge than the South Coast Conference North Division. Pasadena City College knows this all too well, especially after Chaffey pulled an upset over the Lancers, 68-66, Wednesday night at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.
It was actually the second time this season the fifth-place Panthers (14-13, 3-6) beat PCC, also winning by a basket, 62-60, at the LA Southwest Tournament in November. This time it was Jasmine Burley making the game-winning layup with seven seconds left.
Only a few weeks ago, PCC celebrated Coach Joe Peron's 500th victory in a win over now state No. 18-ranked East Los Angeles. The Lancers, who were briefly on the CCCSIA State Top 20 Rankings a week ago, dropped off going into the week and lost their third straight conference game. PCC is 4-5 and in fourth place in the SCC. The Lancers close the regular/conference season on Friday, Feb. 16 when they play last-place Rio Hondo (5 p.m tip-off).
With 14 seconds remaining, forward Alisa Shinn took a pass from point guard Samaiyah Abdullah and tied the game, 66-66, on an inside basket. The two players were honored in a pre-game ceremony to celebrate Sophomore Night at PCC. Shinn, who averages 21 points and 13 rebounds per game, was limited to 17 points and 10 rebounds overall, but also added five assists and three steals. Frosh shooting guard Jade Lin ended up leading the Lancers, scoring 19 points after totaling only 13 points in her previous three games combined. Lin was 7-for-12 from the field, including making 3-for-6 on treys.
Another Lancer shaking a slump was freshman guard Elise Ortega, who contributed 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Ortega had scored only 10 points over the previous three games, including being held scoreless in a loss to Mt. San Antonio. Abdullah chipped in nine points, eight assists, five steals, and four boards. First-year center Mercy Odima had eight points and seven rebounds.
The big difference in the game was Chaffey's field goal shooting as the Panthers shot 53.1 percent, including scorching the nets from 3-point distance at 8-for-13 for 61.5 percent. Jessica Pantoja was a perfect 4-for-4 on 3s and tied Chaffey teammate Kaleb Badibanga who bada-binged PCC for 17 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.
Pasadena jumped ahead 9-0, but the Panthers cut it to 18-15 by the end of the first quarter. Chaffey took a 35-28 halftime lead, and then built it to double digits at 40-30. The Lancers finally responded, cutting it to 50-49 through three quarters. With 5:22 left, Lin drained a 3-pointer for a 59-58 PCC advantage. Chaffey regained the lead at 64-61, but Abdullah hit a bank shot-and-1 that tied it, 64-64.
PLAYOFFS SCENARIO BELOW
Despite the loss, PCC's RPI or power rating remains at No. 13. If the Lancers are seeded anywhere from No. 14 to No. 16, they would host a Round 1 Southern California Regional game on Wednesday, Feb. 21. Long Beach City, a team that beat PCC, is at No. 14 and could leap-frog Pasadena. If PCC was seeded at No. 13, it would advance directly to Round 2 when it would play on the road on either Friday or Saturday, Feb. 24 or 25. The Lancers still can finish as high as a tie for third place in the SCC North if Chaffey upsets East Los Angeles (5-4) while PCC takes care of Rio Hondo (0-9) this Friday.
The first five teams in the SCC North all could make it to the postseason with Mt. San Antonio (#3 RPI), LA Trade Tech (#9), ELAC (#10), PCC (#13), and Chaffey (#19) each in a position to be among the 19-team SoCal playoff field. Trade Tech is currently first in the conference at 8-1, but plays second-place Mt. SAC on Friday night. The state No. 9 Mounties have a 16-year, SCC title streak on the line and would continue it to 17 with a win over the 10th-ranked Beavers, who already clinched a share of the crown.