Dueling Last-Second Shots Part Of Women's Cagers Double OT Win

Cosette Balmy is mobbed by teammates after her overtime basket during the Lancers win over East LA, photo by Michael Watkins.
Cosette Balmy is mobbed by teammates after her overtime basket during the Lancers win over East LA, photo by Michael Watkins.

It was a case of let me top that on Friday night. After East Los Angeles somehow erased a 6-point deficit in the last 25 seconds capped by a buzzer-beating 3-point bomb by reserve guard Ryan Terry to send it to overtime at 63-63, the Pasadena City College women's basketball team found itself facing defeat in the 5-minute, extra period.

But it was Cosette Balmy's turn to save her squad. Balmy got the ball at the top of the key, alertly stepped back behind the semi-circle and swished a 3-pointer that tied it at 75-75 with 1.5 seconds left, sending the game to a second OT. In the sixth period, PCC never trailed after an opening short jumper by Dariel Johnson. A Zaira Velasquez put-back on a missed free throw by Balmy gave PCC enough room as the Lancers closed out a wild, 86-82, double-overtime victory at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.

Balmy, the team's sophomore point guard, finished one assist short of a triple-double as she scored 18 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out nine assists. 

PCC is still alive in a fierce South Coast Conference North Division title race at 17-7 overall and 4-2 in conference play. The state #13-ranked Lancers are one game back of frontrunner and #9-rated Mt. San Antonio (5-1). Next week, the Lancers have an opportunity to win their first conference title in 13 years if they beat both LA Trade Tech (Feb. 19 at home) and Mt. SAC (Feb. 21, away) in the conference finale. Rio Hondo figured to be in the hunt too after a surprising rout over PCC, 75-52, on Feb. 12, but the #16-ranked Roadrunners dropped to 4-3 in a loss to Trade Tech on Friday. PCC, Mt. SAC and Rio Hondo, however, have several scenarios that could result in co-titles although the Mounties are in the driver's seat for at least a share of the crown as of today.

ELAC fell to 15-11 and a perplexing 1-5 in conference despite 21 points and 10 rebounds by Citlaly Davalos. 

The Lancers victory over ELAC was just another memorable matchup in a rivalry that has taken shape over the past six years. PCC has had its season end three of the last four years in SoCal Regional playoff losses to the Huskies. This is the first time that PCC won both regular season meetings over ELAC since the 2012-13 season. In three of the last four seasons, the squads have have had matchups decided in overtime, including PCC head coach Joe Peron's 500th victory in 2018. 


This epic contest started out with the Huskies taking an 11-5 lead after one quarter, one that Johnson sat out due to a coach's decision. DJ, the sophomore All-State forward, was a force the rest of the way as she scored 20 points (fourth time this season), grabbed 24 rebounds (fourth 20-plus rebound performance in '19-20) and blocked five shots. Johnson has eight times reached 20 rebounds in her career, five in all-important SCC divison games. Johnson's career points total is 752, now 18th on the PCC All-Time Scoring List. 

Against ELAC, she passed into territory not charted ever before by a Lancers women's basketball player. She passed the 800-rebound mark (807 overall) and she has 208 blocks, new highs in PCC history. Currently, Johnson is second in the state in rebounding average (16.1 boards) and third in blocks (3.4 a contest). 

In the second quarter, the Lancers pulled ahead to take a 25-22 halftime lead. PCC built the advantage to 54-44 after three quarters and held an 8-point lead, 62-54, with 71 seconds left before the Huskies made their amazing comeback. Terry's corner game-tying bomb was her only basket. 

Other Lancers performers included frosh forward Kristal Espinoza with 17 points and six rebounds, sophomore guard Merina Latu 12 points, six boards, six steals, and freshman guard Kaniya Hill with 11 points. 

The game actually featured three last-second shots as Davalos banked in a 3-pointer at the second-OT buzzer that ended the game.

In PCC's loss at Rio Hondo, Espinoza led the Lancers with 12 points, seven steals, five assists and five rebounds while Balmy added 10 points and eight steals.

Balmy's career points total is 682, now 23rd on the PCC all-time scoring list.