Furious Rally For Women's Basketball, But Glendale Late 3 Ends PCC Season

Vanessa Epperson makes the steal during PCC's playoff defeat on Saturday (photo and gallery by Richard Quinton).
Vanessa Epperson makes the steal during PCC's playoff defeat on Saturday (photo and gallery by Richard Quinton).

The women's basketball SoCal Playoff Round 2 Regional on Saturday between #14 seed Pasadena City College at #3 Glendale was a postseason classic. The Lancers battled back from a 15-point, third quarter deficit to tie it with 40 seconds left only to see the Vaqueros' Patil Yaacoubian swish a 3-pointer with 10.8 seconds to go ending PCC's 2023-24 season, 54-51.

PCC finished at 18-11 overall in head coach Joe Peron's 25th postseason in 27 seasons. Glendale (27-2) advances to one of four regional finals next Saturday v. #6 Palomar.

Glendale led 30-17 at halftime as PCC went up against the state's stingiest defense (only 44.9 points allowed per game). 

In the second half, the Lancers went farther behind at 37-22, but then started to chip away at the lead, outscoring the Vaqueros, 12-4, in the last 4:44 of the third quarter.

Vanessa Epperson's steal and basket cut it to 41-34 going into the fourth quarter. But Glendale brought the advantage back to double digits at 45-34. PCC battled back as center Crystal Smith drained a corner 3 to cap an 11-2 run with 2:50 remaining.

Glendale made it 51-47 on a rebound-and-basket by Evelyn Birau with 1:40 left. PCC fought back one more time as Lamia Daley bolted for a layup, then Epperson drove the lane for the tying basket at 51-51 with 40 ticks of the clock left. The Vaqueros had held lead the previous 34 minutes, last tied at 2-2. 

Out of a timeout, Yacoubian would send her team to the next round with her clutch 3, but PCC tried one more time as Smith's attempt for 3 went long at the buzzer. 

"It was simply a great game and the players just left it all out there against one of the best teams in the state," Peron said. "I told the players at halftime, basketball is a game of runs and they had their run and we were going to have ours. We switched to a zone the entire second half and I thought that Epperson and Abigail Saville stepped up on defense. We were able to get force a few steals and got some fast break baskets to get us back in it."

Peron's playoff record is now 39-24 (.619 win percentage) as his team has remarkably advanced to at least as far as the second round in all 25 of the program's playoff appearances going back to his first season in 1996-97. 

Overall, Epperson (five rebounds, three assists, three steals) and Antuanae Garrett each scored 13 points, Saville scored eight of her 10 in the second half (plus five rebounds), and Daley reached 10 with four assists. Smith added all five of her points in the fourth quarter and led the team with 10 rebounds plus two blocks. The only other Lancer to see time was backup guard Jessica Lopez, who played eight minutes and had one rebound. 

Glendale was paced by Paola Gorgeiz with 15 points and eight boards, Osanna Tirityan's all-around efforts on seven points, 10 rebounds and five assists, and Yaacoubian's 10 points off the bench. 

Transfer sophomores Garrett, Epperson, and Smith all finished their community college careers. "Twin" Garrett missed the 500-point club by just 14 points (486) while freshmen Saville (432) and "MJ" Daley (430) will easily hit that mark if they return for a second season as Lancers.