Irvine Valley's women's basketball team bounced back from one of its most disappointing losses of the season with one of its most exciting wins.
Freshman forward Alexis Casillas made a floater in the lane with 8 seconds left to lift Irvine Valley to a 55-53 win over Santa Ana in an important Orange Empire Conference game on Tuesday night at IVC.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Lasers, which included a two-point loss to Saddleback last Friday.
Irvine Valley improved its record to 16-10 overall and 5-5 in conference. The win also kept the Lasers alive for the postseason.
Irvine Valley moved past Santa Ana and into fourth place in the conference.
Santa Ana's record slipped to 14-11 overall and 4-5 in conference.
Irvine Valley got another strong game from freshman center Breanna Turner. She finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman guard Kendall Peterson added 11 points and four assists, freshman forward Conerie Brennan had eight points and Casillas and sophomore forward Taylor Casey each added six points and eight rebounds. Casillas also chipped in four assists.
The Lasers won despite going just 9 of 21 from the free throw line.
It was a grinding second half after Irvine Valley trailed, 35-30, at the intermission.
The Lasers out-scored Santa Ana, 25-18, in the second half.
Santa Ana took its largest lead of the second half at 41-33 after a basket by Jazmine Johnson with 16:16 left to play.
And the Dons had a 45-39 lead with 11:25 to go after a jumper by Lisa Tran with 11:25 left.
But the Lasers scored six straight points and tied the game at 45-45 on a free throw by Casillas with 8:53 to go.
The game was tied, 50-50, after two free throws by Turner with 3:28 left.
Ashley Whisler, the conference's leading scorer, hit a three-pointer with 1:53 to play to give the Dons a 53-50 advantage.
But it would be Santa Ana's final points.
A free throw by Casillas got Irvine Valley within 53-51 with 1:30 left.
And after a turnover by the Dons, Casey scored inside to tie things up at 53-53 with 1:08 left to play.
Santa Ana was charged for an offensive foul with 42 seconds left.
IVC freshman guard Karli Kato missed a three-pointer with 19 seconds to play, but Casey grabbed the offensive rebound.
Irvine Valley was out of timeouts, but set up a play on the fly. Casillas got the ball inside, turned and scored with 8 seconds left.
Santa Ana turned the ball as the game ended.
The Dons got 18 points and six assists from Whisler and 16 points and 10 rebounds from Johnson in the defeat.
Irvine Valley plays again on Thursday at Fullerton at 5:30 p.m.