Irvine Valley's women's basketball team used a strong end of the third quarter to create the cushion it needed and beat Santa Ana, 60-54, in the Orange Empire Conference opener for both teams on Wednesday night at home.
Irvine Valley led, 29-28, at the half, but then out-scored Santa Ana, 20-10, in the third quarter.
The Lasers scored the final 10 points of the period to create the distance they needed for the victory.
Irvine Valley improved its record to 9-8 overall, while Santa Ana, which was ranked No. 15 in the latest South Region Poll, saw its record fall to 10-7.
IVC led, 39-38, after Santa Ana's Amy Talavou made two free throws with 3:43 left in the third quarter.
The Lasers then scored 10 points in a row.
Sophomore guard Aaleah Brown scored the first five of those points with a free throw, jumper and then layup to give IVC a 44-38 advantage with 2:38 left in the quarter.
A layup by freshman guard Mary Dishoian made it a 46-38 game. Freshman guard Chasity Paopao sank a free throw and then with one second left in the clock in the quarter, IVC freshman forward Taylor Hall was fouled and made two free throws.
IVC took a 49-38 lead into the final quarter.
Santa Ana still made it a game with a 6-0 run midway through the quarter, including getting consecutive three-pointers from Jen Ventura.
After a basket by Taylor Ivicevic and a free throw by Talavou, Santa Ana was within 51-49, with 4:51 to play.
But IVC answered with two free throws from sophomore forward Kydell Pearson and then a layup by Brown to push the lead to 55-49 with 3:57 left.
Santa Ana pulled within 57-54 after two free throws by Alysia Gamboa with 34 seconds left. But freshman forward Kiara Warren sank two free throws with 23 seconds left to make it a five-point game.
Irvine Valley got 19 points from Brown. She was 9 of 15 from the field.
Dishoian had one of her best games of the year for IVC with 12 points, four rebounds and two steals.
Pearson and Warren each had nine points with Pearson adding eight rebounds and Warren contributing seven boards and three steals.
And sophomore guard Serena Saba ended with 12 assists for IVC.
Santa Ana was paced by Blaysen Varnadoe with 12 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks and Ivicevic, who finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and six steals.
Irvine Valley plays again on Friday at Saddleback at 7 p.m.