After heading into the locker room at halftime trailing 38-32, the Charger coaching staff made a brilliant decision to pull back its trademark full-court defensive pressure - something they hadn't done in years - and force the Vikings to execute their offense in a half court set.
The defensive shift by Cypress turned the entire game around after the break, and left the Long Beach City coaching staff scratching their heads for an answer to the Chargers suffocating half court defense.
Cypress went on an 8-0 run to open the period and never looked back. The Chargers finished the second half by outscoring the host Vikings 32-14, which included a defensive clinic that only allowed the Long Beach City to shoot 10.5 percent in the second half on 4 of 38 shooting from the floor, including an 0 for 8 effort from beyond the arc. That was quite a contrast from the first half, when LBCC used its fast break opportunities to shoot 55.2 percent from the field by making 16 of 29 shot attempts.
Long Beach City couldn't stop Cypress' punishing inside attack on the other end of the court either. The Chargers imposed their will on the glass to out-rebound the Vikings 53-43 for the game, and abuse them for 22 second-chance points.
Freshman Chelsea Walton stepped up big for the Chargers in the second period by scoring 10 of her team-leading 16 points after intermission. Fellow frosh Sloan Turner scored eight points after halftime to finish with 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting from the field.
Cypress' twin towers, Turner and Melissa Jensen, combined for 21 rebounds, with Jensen grabbing a team-high 11, including seven in the second period.
Nikki Perkins and Jensen each finished with eight points, while Jessica Romero and Denshay Wallace both added four points off the bench. Sam Soria had three points for the Chargers, and Tera Salhus, Donna Ka' anoi, Jonell Bowers, Ivory Hallstein and Kaitlyn Roche all chipped in with two points apiece.
After trailing very early on, Cypress took its first lead of the game with 16:11 to play in the first half, when Walton hit a layup to put the Chargers up 7-5. Both squads continued to trade baskets for much of the first half, and it looked like it would be a tight battle until the very end.
With 11:16 on the clock, Bowers drained a three pointer to give Cypress a 14-11 advantage, but LBCC came back with two quick scores to go up by a point less than a minute later.
Walton tied the game at 20-20 with 7:32 to go in the half before the Vikings went on an 18-13 run to close out the first period and head into the locker room clinging to a 38-33 lead over the Chargers.
You could sense something special was about to happen when the Chargers emerged from the locker room to warm up before the second half of play. For the Chargers, losing was never even an option, despite trailing by six points, on the road, to a team that had beaten them earlier this season.
Less than a minute in, Salus hit a layup for Cypress to spark an 8-0 run to open the second period. Ka' anoi made a jumper to cut the deficit to one, then Jensen scored the next four points of the game to put the Chargers ahead 41-38 with 16:05 to play in the game.
Cypress never trailed again.
LBCC got back to withing one-point at 43-42 with 14:06 to left on the clock, but that was the closest they would get the rest of the night. Cypress clearly looked like the better team down the stretch to pull away from the Vikings with a 21-10 run to close out the period.
At the 11:08 mark, Perkins hit from downtown to give the Chargers a 47-42 lead, then minutes later, Turner would stretch Cypress' lead to six points when she ripped down the board off of a Jensen miss, and put it back in for a layup that made it a 50-44 ballgame.
Walton put the Chargers up by nine points with 4:40 to go in the game when she converted a three-point play with a layup and a basket from the free throw line. Walton would go on to score the next five points for the Chargers from the line as well, to open up a commanding 62-50 lead over Long Beach City with only 1:28 to play in the game.
Jensen found Turner with just under a minute on the clock to give the Chargers their largest lead of the game at 64-50, and Soria made a free throw with 30 seconds left on the clock to close the book on the Chargers 65-52 come-from-behind victory over Long Beach City College on its own court.
The Chargers will now await the results from the No. 2 seed Ventura College vs. No. 15 seed Pasadena City College matchup on Saturday night to learn who their next opponent will be.
If Ventura wins at home, Cypress will play on the road next Wednesday, February 27 at 7 p.m.. If Pasadena City College pulls off an upset at Ventura, the Chargers will host their third round matchup at home next Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Cypress College vs. Long Beach City College Photogallery