By Vanessa Lopez
East Los Angeles College, the No. 20-ranked women’s basketball team in the state, defeated San Diego City College, 53-48, to secure the consolation championship at the second annual Lady Gaucho Classic last Saturday.
The Huskies held off a late rally from SDCC in the second half to secure the win and an overall record of 5-1 in non-conference play.
ELAC won behind big performances by starting forward DeLaura Castanada and starting point guard Dioseline Lopez. Castanada led the Huskies with eight points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block.
“I was hungry and I wanted to continue to fight. We had to keep that one goal in mind, a win,” Castanada said. Lopez helped the offense click down the stretch by scoring 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
SDCC’s Chelsea Burras made a lay-up at the 10:16 mark of the second half to tie the game, 41-41. Castanada answered that with a crucial lay-up for a 43-41 lead. SDCC would follow with two critical turnovers. Lopez then sank a three-pointer for a 46-41 lead.
ELAC overcame big performances from San Diego center Shamonique Malone-Boyd and guard Diana Leasau, who scored most of SDCC’s field goals with a combined 33 points.
The Huskies won despite having 21 turnovers. They maintained a stronger field goal percentage at 34.8 percent, but were hurt by making only two of 16 attempted three point shots and five of 14 free throw attempts.
ELAC did not score much in the last five minutes of the game but strong defense and good decision-making helped hold off SDCC, who came within four points with 39.4 seconds left in the game.
A traveling violation on Leasau and a timeout called by Husky guard Alexis Valles ended any chances of San Diego coming back.
“I had to think critically, be aware,” Valles said, who took the time out because San Diego had a strong full-court press, “You have to think for yourself and the team,” Valles said.
“We could have played a lot better but the important thing is that we did what we came here to do, win,” Head Coach Bruce Turner said.
The Huskies will play against El Camino College Compton Center in the men’s gym tonight at 6 p.m. in their home opener.