It was a clash of the titans between to OEC powerhouse programs in Fullerton and Saddleback on Wednesday night with the Gauchos earning the win over the Hornets 62-61.
Both teams came into the game with undefeated conference records and had much to prove as Fullerton ended Saddleback's impressive five-year run as the OEC Champs last season.
The home-loss hurts the #4 Hornets giving them an overall record of 13-5 along with a 2-1 blemish the Orange Empire Conference. The Gaucho win bumps them up to 10-8 overall with an undefeated record of 2-0 in the OEC.
The Hornets and Gauchos wasted no time in getting after it as both teams fought for position keeping the game close. By the 12-minute mark, the score was tied 15-15 with neither team jumping ahead by much. With a minute left in the first half, the Hornets grabbed their biggest lead of the game at 36-30 on a pair of free throws by Jason Richardson.
The second half was the same as the first… a dog fight. The game went back and forth as both teams exchanged shots, however Fullerton's big blow came in the for Fullerton in the final minute. Up 61-60 and looking to add to their lead, the Hornets turned the ball over allowing Saddleback's JJ Overton to steal the ball and dunk the game's final points. FC had one more chance to score but the Gauchos held on for the much-needed OEC win.
Up Next: Fullerton (13-5 overall, 2-1 OEC) will play at home again this Friday, January 12th against district and conference rival Cypress College. Tipoff is at 5:00 pm.
*Photos by Phil Thurman