RIVERSIDE, Calif – The 2019-2020 season started off on a sour note for the Santa Ana women's basketball team after a displeasing performance in a 62-48 loss to Rio Hondo College in its season opener on Thursday.
But the Dons regrouped to come back and win a couple games in the last two days of the Riverside City "Earn Our Stripes" Tournament, handily defeating Grossmont 86-53 in an elimination game and pulling out a 71-63 overtime victory against Cerritos to win the consolation championship.
Against Rio Hondo on day one, the Lady Dons had the worse game they could possibly imagine. Santa Ana recorded 42 turnovers in 40 minutes of action, which is the most for the program since the first game of the 2012-13 season (42 vs Palomar).
In game number two, they cleaned things up and showed what they could do with an explosive 82 point offensive performance as five Dons scored in double digits.
Santa Ana hit 10 threes against the Griffins with four coming from Sunshine Townson, who led all Don scorers with 16 points. Jennifer Murillo poured in 15 points on 5-11 shooting while Nicole Robles popped another four threes to finish with 13 points. Cheryl Caldera and Lexi Ross were the last two Dons in double-digits, scoring 12 apiece.
The win set up an exciting consolation championship game against Cerritos on day three.
With the championship on the line, Santa Ana got off to a good start as they jumped out to a 20-11 lead in the first quarter and went into the locker room at halftime up 33-26. But the Cerritos Falcons slowly cut into that lead and eventually went on a run to gain a 60-52 lead with 1:19 remaining in the fourth.
SAC then caught a break as Cerritos went 0-4 from the charity stripe down the stretch, leaving the door open for Ross and Sweet to hit one free throw each to send the game to overtime with the score tied at 60-60.
Despite having their leading scorer (Brianna Aluva/14) foul out in regulation and their second leading scorer (Lexi Ross/13) take her fifth foul late in OT, the Lady Dons outscored the Falcons 11-3 to complete the comeback for a 71-63 win.
Ross managed to collect three more points in overtime before fouling out of the game and Ehlert stepped up with a crucial jumper from three to push SAC's lead to seven (69-62) at the 2:21 mark. Townson scored all five of her points in the extra time, coming alive when it mattered after failing make a shot in regulation.
NEXT UP: Santa Ana will take a break until they host their annual tournament starting on Thursday, November 21st. The Dons will matchup with College of the Desert (1-4) in round one at 8:00 p.m.
Brianna Aluva – 9ppg, 7rpg, 1.5apg