El Camino College had its chances but came up just short in a 60-57 loss to Palomar Wednesday evening in the championship game of the Coast Christmas Classic hosted by Orange Coast College at the Basil Peterson Gym.
The Warriors (10-4) overcame an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit to pull even with the Comets (12-3) in the final period. The teams proceeded to trade the lead twice in the final five minutes of action but it was Palomar that came out on top.
Salihah Bey led the Warriors with 17 points and 11 rebounds and earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team. She recorded a double-double in all three games at the tournament. Teammate and fellow All-Tournament selection Erika Carson hauled in 11 rebounds of her own and recorded two blocks in the loss. Carson averaged 10 rebounds a game at the tournament. Jordan Hixon added nine points and eight rebounds in the loss.
For the Comets, tournament MVP Imari Cooley led the way with 22 points in 27 minutes off the bench. She shot 7-of-8 from the field and nailed eight of her 10 free throw attempts. Dee Dee Valenzuela added 12 points in the victory.
The Warriors trailed 47-39 early in the fourth but put together a 10-2 scoring run to tie things up with 4:23 left in the game. Alexia Mason then hit a layup to with 3:56 left to give the Warriors their first lead since they led 35-34 with 6:24 left in the third quarter.
After the Comets tied it, Brenna Wilson drilled a 3-pointer to put ECC up 54-51 with 2:10 left but the Comets scored seven straight points to take a 58-54 lead with 27 seconds left in regulation.
The Warriors cut the deficit in half on a layup from Carson and then sent Valenzuela to the free throw line with 15 seconds left. She would miss both attempts, giving the Warriors a chance to tie things up.
Bey was fouled and went to the line with 10 seconds left but missed the game-tying free throw, leaving ECC trailing 58-57 with six seconds left.
Cooley went to the free throw line and hit both attempts to put Palomar up by three but the Warriors had one final chance to tie things up. But Ashley Nguyen's 3-pointer was offline as time expired, leaving the Warriors to finish second in their second straight tournament.
The Warriors will now take nine days off before taking on Glendale on the road on Dec. 29.