Sophomore Melissa Jensen helped lead the Chargers (11-8, 2-0) past a Saddleback College (14-3, 1-1) squad that hadn't lost a game since the beginning of December. Cypress' suffocating defensive pressure held the Gauchos to 17 points under their season average.
Jensen finished with a double-double after scoring 12 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Fellow sophomore Donna Ka'anoi matched Jensen with 12 points, while picking up a pair of steals and three boards. Freshman Chelsea Walton was the other Charger in double figures with 10 points and a game-high four assists.
Freshman Sloan Turner turned in a solid performance on both ends of the court - finishing with eight points, seven rebounds and a game-high four blocks. Sophomore Jessica Romero led the Chargers with three steals.
Cypress got off to a slow start against a confident Gaucho offense that scored eight straight points to open the game. A layup by Jensen with 17:32 to go in the half got the Chargers on the board, and sparked a 17-2 defensive clinic that put the Chargers out in front 17-10. Saddleback's only points during that span came on a pair of free throws by Rina Towne at the 16:22 mark.
With 11:24 to go in the half, Doreen Lopez hit a layup and converted a free throw to give Cypress a seven-point edge over the Gauchos. Saddleback finally ended their almost six-minute scoring drought when Raven Gammage got a jumper to drop to make it a 17-12 ballgame.
Saddleback still had a lot of fight left in it, and proceeded to go on an 8-2 run of its own, and reclaim a 20-19 lead . There were five lead changes over the next couple of minutes, before Denshay Wallace made both of her free throws with 3:30 left in the period to give Cypress a 25-24 advantage.
Layups by Walton, Ka'anoi and Jensen closed out the first half scoring and sent the Chargers into the locker room up by seven at 31-24.
After the break, Saddleback came out gunning, and hit on a pair of threes to make it a one-point contest, but Cypress answered right back with scores by Bowers and Ka'anoi to stretch the lead back to 35-30. A 7-2 run by the Gauchos tied the game at 37-37, but it wouldn't stay that way for long.
The Chargers jumped right back on top after they rolled off four straight points to take a 41-37 lead. The game continued to go back-and-forth game before Saddleback hit three-straight baskets to go up 44-41 with 10:23 to go in regulation.
That lead would turn out to be the Gauchos last. of the game.
A three-point play by Walton evened the game at 44-44, and began a 20-8 run by the Chargers that closed out the game. The closest the Gauchos would get the rest of the way came with 9:03 to go, when DonQuenae Townsend hit a layup for Saddleback to tie the game at 46-46.
Turner, Tera Salhus, Ka'anoi, Jensen, Walton and Samantha Soria all hit some big shots down the stretch to seal the deal, and secure the 61-52 Chargers victory in Orange Empire Conference action over Saddleback College in an early season road test.
The Chargers will return home to prepare for a solid early season test against one of the conference's top teams. The last time these two teams met, Cypress knocked Fullerton College out of the playoffs on its own court. This time, Cypress will take on the Hornets at home in a regular season league game scheduled for this coming Wednesday, January 11 at 7:30 p.m. in a battle for OEC supremacy.