Going into the game with the state's top defense at only 50.6 points allowed per game, the Pasadena City College women's basketball team had no answers to stop rival and state No. 4-ranked East Los Angeles Friday night. ELAC led by as much as 20 points in the second quarter and ran the floor past the Lancers, 69-57, at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.
State #7-rated PCC trailed 42-26 by halftime and then fought back to cut it to four points, 55-51, on a Cosette Balmy layup early in the fourth quarter. But the Huskies went on a 12-2 run at that point to ice their win. The Lancers best quarter was the third when they outscored East LA, 18-10, and used three 3-pointers by Kailey Thai and a trey by Dariel Johnson to cut away at the large deficit.
Pasadena (16-4, 1-1) allowed its most points in a game this season and most points in one half as well. ELAC (19-4, 2-0) pressed PCC and forced 24 turnovers, including 17 by steals. It was the Huskies' defense and baskets from all 10 players who played that made the difference.
Once again, Johnson proved to be the best player on the floor, something she's been doing all season for the Lancers. The 6-foot-2 center finished with 23 points, 21 rebounds, six blocked shots and three steals. Balmy added 14 points, seven boards and five assists while Thai scored 12 points on four long-range buckets. The trio scored 49 of the team's points as the other eight Lancers did very little offensively (3-for-19 from the floor).
East LA was led by 15 points from Jaelynn Curley and 14 by Jadis Watson. The Huskies made 19-for-27 from the free throw line while the Lancers were under 50 percent at 7-for-16.
When PCC head coach Joe Peron began directing the Lancers program in 1996-97, Pasadena routinely beat its conference opponent from Monterey Park, winning 27 of 33 encounters v. ELAC. Since the 2013-14 season, the tide turned as the Huskies have been very tough on the Lancers, winning now eight of the last 11 meetings. The rivalry has become one of the fiercest in the state. Last February, Peron won his 500th career game at the expense of East LA when Pasadena won a thriller in overtime, 73-69.
It doesn't get any easier in the state's toughest conference--the SCC North--as PCC hosts No. 5-ranked Los Angeles Trade Tech on Wednesday, Jan. 30. Tip-off is 7 p.m. after the men's contest.