By Carlos Alvarez
In front of her home crowd, East Los Angeles College freshman guard Olivia Ochoa led her team to a dramatic 93-92 overtime victory over Pasadena City College on Jan. 10.
“It was a team effort. I don’t take credit for the win,” Ochoa said.
With 1.2 seconds remaining and the Huskies down 92-91 in overtime, Ochoa made an effortless 15-foot jump shot to ignite a roaring celebration from the ELAC faithful crowd.
“The play wasn’t set up for me. I was just able to hit the shot. I told my teammates ‘Let’s enjoy it, but let’s not get too excited we still have a long season,’” Ochoa said.
Ochoa was dominant in all aspects of the game scoring 33 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out four assists.
“Ochoa was terrific. She’s what we call a ‘scoring point guard.’ She can go for 40 points any night,” ELAC Head Coach Bruce Turner said.
While Ochoa’s performance was terrific, ELAC’s sophomore forward Jocelyn Diaz was a force inside doing all the dirty work in the paint.
Diaz finished with 18 points and a team-high 11 rebounds while battling the PCC taller freshman forward Regerina Baker and center Chanelle Fisher.
With the victory ELAC, the state’s No. 4-ranked team, moves to 16-2 overall, 1-1 in the South Coast Conference North Division. Pasadena falls to 11-6, 1-1 in conference play.
“It was an outstanding game, great competition. Pasadena battled all the way to the end,” Turner said.
It was a high scoring game with multiple lead changes and no lead of double digits.
At the half, PCC led 38-36 behind the play of freshman guard Judith Espinoza, who either scored or set up one of her teammates for an easy basket.
“We came out strong in the first half, but in the second half we didn’t play with the same intensity on defense,” Espinoza said.
Espinoza finished the game with 21 points, a game-high 14 assists while grabbing 7 rebounds.
In the second half it was Baker show as she scored 14 of her team’s first 16 points in the half.
Baker finished with 34 points and 12 rebounds, hitting the game-tying three point shot at the end of regulation.
“We knew coming in that she (Baker) will be tough. She shot the ball better than we expected. Baker is a great player,” Turner said.
With both teams scoring at will heading into overtime, the game turned into a chess match among the coaches.
Unable to stop the playmaking ability of Espinoza and the scoring of Baker, Turner changed his team defensive scheme from a zone defense to a full court press.
ELAC’s adjustment on defense resulted in two costly PCC turnovers that were converted into five points and a 91-90 lead with 41.8 seconds remaining.
The decisive move was PCC Head Coach Joe Peron’s choice to leave freshman guard Chy’annea Hodges in the game for a long period of time.
“Full court press didn’t bother all of us, just one of us. I didn’t take her (Hodges) out soon enough because she was playing good offensively,” Peron said.
ELAC continues conference play hosting El Camino College Compton Center Jan. 14 at 5 p.m.
“It was an important win after losing to Mt. SAC, but know we prepare for our next game. Every game is important,” Ochoa said.