SANTA ANA, Calif. – It was a game of runs on Wednesday night, as the Santa Ana men's basketball team battled No. 24 Irvine Valley in a crucial Orange Empire Conference game.
Santa Ana knew it needed to win this one after starting conference play with an 0-2 record. The Dons showed their sense of urgency by going on a 15-0 run to start the game.
Jalani Horn scored 10 points within the first five minutes of the game while the pressing SAC defense gave Irvine Valley fits as the Lasers committed six turnovers in the same amount of time.
But the tide quickly changed as IVC went on their own 20-4 run to take a one point lead with 5:53 left in the half.
The Dons responded and fought back to take a 28-26 lead at the half.
In the second half, neither team could create much separation. The Lasers went up by as much as five (39-34) after JT Robinson hit two free throws at the 13:41 mark. But Sean Githens got things going with a couple layups to cut the lead back to one.
The game would go back and forth with both teams taking leads until Horn put in a go-ahead layup with 2:20 left and followed it with a stepback corner three to give Santa Ana a 62-58 lead at the 1:03 mark.
SAC retained the lead down the stretch as they hit the majority of their free throws to win collect their first Orange Empire Conference win with a score of 67-64.
Ramon Lopez had a big night with 21 points and six assists while going 9-10 from the free throw line. The sophomore from Godinez is now averaging 19.3 points and 2.9 assists per game.
Horn finished with 19 points on 8-13 shooting in 17 minutes after being in foul trouble all game. And Ronald Ellison came up big with a 13 point, 10 rebound performance for his first double-double of the season.
Santa Ana is now 6-9, 1-2 overall while Irvine Valley drops to 11-4, 1-2.
UP NEXT: The Dons will go on the road to challenge No. 21 Saddleback (10-6, 3-1) on Friday night (1/10) at 7:00 p.m.