SAN JACINTO, Calif. – Trailing by 19 points on the road, No. 6 El Camino College looked like its season was going to come to an end before halftime of the California Community College Athletic Association Southern California Regional Final against Mount San Jacinto.
Instead, the Warriors mounted a furious rally that brought them nearly all the way back by the start of the fourth quarter but they could not finish off the comeback, falling to the No. 3 Eagles 81-67 on Saturday night at Mt. San Jacinto College.
Kayla Bibb was stellar in her final game for the Warriors (21-7) as she posted another double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Amiete Nyingifa added 12 points and eight rebounds while Nao Shiota dished out a game-high eight assists but it was not enough for the Warriors to advance to the CCCAA State Championships.
For the Eagles (29-2), Britney Thomas led the charge with 27 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots while Delacy Brown added 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
The Eagles blitzed the Warriors right from the jump, securing the opening tip and then going right down the lane to hit a layup to put the hosts up early. They would never trail in the game as they jumped out to a 9-0 lead and won the first quarter 24-13.
The Eagles would balloon that lead up to 19 points, 33-14, with 7:01 left in the half. But the Warriors fought back and their star forward led the charge, scoring 10 points in the period as ECC outscored the Eagles 22-21 in the second to cut the deficit down to 10 at the break.
In the third, the Warriors defense clamped down on the Eagles, holding them to 5-for-20 shooting (25%) while going 6-for-14 from the field in the period and 6-for-8 from the line. Bibb scored another 10 points in the third and Hunter Noa's free throw with 39 seconds left in the third trimmed the Eagles' lead to just two.
After forcing two straight misses on the other end, Bibb had a chance to tie things up before the period ended but her jumper stayed out as the buzzer sounded.
It would prove to be the Warriors last look at catching the Eagles as the Warriors went cold from the field, hitting just 4-of-20 shots in the fourth as the Eagles outscored ECC 13-2 in the first seven minutes of the period.
Brown had a big part in that surge for the Eagles as the guard went off for 14 points in the fourth quarter, hitting step-back jumpers seemingly at will. She was 4-for-6 shooting in the final period and 6-for-6 at the charity stripe to help the Eagles pull away.
The Warriors made one last push, getting the deficit down to 10 points with 2:06 left on a 3-pointer from Noa, but Brown drilled a step-back jumper from the top of the key to put the game away for good.
Noa finished the game with 10 points all of them in the second half. She went down with 7:47 left in the third quarter with a left-leg injury and had to be helped off the court but checked back into the game just three minutes later and finished with
The Warriors conclude the 2017-18 season as back-to-back South Coast Conference, South Division champions with Bibb and head coach Steve Shaw earning conference player and coach of the year honors respectively.