Women's Basketball

Women's basketball team holds on to beat Mesa in home opener

Women's basketball team holds on to beat Mesa in home opener

Irvine Valley's women's basketball team came away with a 76-67 victory in its first home game of the 2015-16 season on Tuesday night at home.

But the final score was a little closer than what the Lasers would have liked.

Irvine Valley led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter and looked to be cruising toward an easy win before the Olympians rallied.

The Lasers, ranked sixth in the California Community College Women's Basketball Coaches Association South Region Preseason Poll, were able to hold on and improve their record to 2-1 on the year.

Irvine Valley led, 25-12, after the first quarter and 43-28, at halftime.

A basket by freshman forward Kydell Pearson put Irvine Valley ahead, 55-37, with 4:49 left in the third quarter.

San Diego Mesa then went on a 11-2 run to get back in it. A jumper by Ciara Williams, a three-pointer by Sage Brown, a free throw by Kathleen Talde and a three-pointer by Madison Ramirez pulled San Diego Mesa to within 57-48 with 1:45 left in the quarter.

Two free throws by sophomore forward Patricia Tidwell-McClure gave Irvine Valley a 61-51 lead, but Talde knocked down a three-pointer to get San Diego Mesa within 61-54 heading into the fourth quarter.

Another three-pointer by Talde cut Irvine Valley's lead to 61-57 with 9:23 left in the game.

But sophomore guard Erika Mercado answered with a jumper to slow San Diego Mesa's momentum and then sophomore forward Morgan Bryant made a layup with 7:19 to play to give Irvine Valley a 65-57 lead.

But the Olympians still hung around and were within four points at 69-65 with 3:55 left after back-to-back layups by Williams and then a basket by Cierra Goudeau.

Sophomore guard Jordan Coleman made the shot of the game for IVC, nailing a three-pointer on IVC's next possession. The basket gave Irvine Valley a 72-65 lead with 3:38 to play.

San Diego Mesa didn't get closer than five points the rest of the way.

Mercado and Coleman each knocked down a free throw in the closing seconds to give Irvine Valley the seven-point win.

Irvine Valley shot 49.2 percent (30 of 61) from the field for the game, out-rebounded San Diego Mesa, 44-27, and had 24 assists on 30 made baskets.

But 23 turnovers hurt the Lasers. And San Diego Mesa also made six more three-pointers that IVC in the game. San Diego Mesa shot 43.3 percent (26 of 60) from the field and 30.0 percent (9 of 30) from three-point range.

Irvine Valley was paced by Coleman, a returning all-Orange Empire Conference first team player and honorable mention All-American honoree from last season, with 24 points and four assists in 35 minutes. Freshman forward Kasey Smit had an impressive game with 15 points, 12 rebounds and five steals. Mercado chipped in 13 points and seven assists and freshman forward Pearson had eight points and seven rebounds for IVC.

San Diego Mesa, whose record fell to 1-2 on the year, was paced by Williams with 18 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks and Talde, who finished with 15 points.

Irvine Valley plays again on Saturday, hosting Rio Hondo at 6 p.m.

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