COSTA MESA — With 100 combined missed shots by host Orange Coast College and Santa Ana, there were plenty of rebounds up for grabs Wednesday night.
But the most important rebound was the one that would have ended the two women's basketball teams' three-game losing streak to open the Orange Empire Conference schedule this season.
The victory, and the ultimate bounce-back, was claimed by OCC, which posted a 68-50 triumph, largely due to its 63-45 rebounding advantage
The Pirates (10-10, 1-3 in conference) had three players post double-figure rebounds and shot slightly better than the Dons (8-12, 0-4) to prevail. The win snapped a five-game Orange Empire Conference skid for the Pirates, dating back to last season.
OCC sophomore Jenna Arnett, scoreless at halftime, finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds, while freshman Raechelle Davis had 13 rebounds and eight points for the winners.
OCC sophomore Michelle Angel had 10 rebounds and eight points to go with seven assists for the Pirates, who received 16 points from freshman Dayanara Armenta, as well as 11 points (on five-of-six field-goal shooting) and seven rebounds from sophomore Jessica Johnson.
"We were 0-3 in conference, but I thought we easily could have been 3-0," said OCC Coach Mike Thornton, who benched starters Davis and Jalecia Wilson for arriving late.
"I don't know if [Davis and Wilson coming off the bench] was the reason we got off to a slow start or not," Thornton said.
Both teams struggled to find any flow early. OCC made just five of its first 22 field-goal tries (22.7%), while Santa Ana missed 21 of its first 24 shots from the field (12.5%).
OCC finished the first half, after which it led, 23-17, at just 27.5% from the field (10 for 36), while the Dons were just seven for 39 before intermission (17.9%). Further, both teams were a combined two for 30 from three-point range with OCC netting just one of its 16 long-distance attempts (6.3%).
OCC used a 10-0 run late in the first half to turn a 15-13 deficit into an eight-point lead with 41 seconds left in the opening period.
In the first 15 minutes of the second half, the Pirates used separate runs of 8-0, 7-0 and 10-0 to pull away, upping its lead to a high of 21 points at one point.
OCC made all 10 of its free-throw attempts in the final 3:24 to halt any hopes of a comeback by the Santa Ana team coached by former OCC point guard Flo Luppani.
Arnett made five of nine second-half field-goal attempts and Armenta netted three of her four three-pointers after intermission.
OCC freshman guard Caitlyn Bunting, in her second game since missing nine contests with a sprained ankle, added stability, as well as five points, four assists and two rebounds in 20 reserve minutes.
OCC had 25 offensive rebounds, just two fewer than Santa Ana produced on its defensive end.
The Dons, who made 12 of 34 field-goal tries in the second half, finished at 26% from the field (19 for 73) for the game. They were six for 28 from three-point range and connected on only six of 14 foul shots (42.9%).
OCC's 15 turnovers were three more than the Dons, and OCC had 18 assists on its 24 field goals, while Santa Ana had only four assists on 19 buckets.
"They just can't shoot the ball real well," Thornton said of the visitors. "I wasn't sure if it was great defense, but their inability to make shots helped us. We weren't doing much offensively in the first half either."
Ashley Whisler, who made five of 11 three-point attempts, led the Dons with 24 points.
OCC returns to action on Wednesday when it visits Cypress at 5:30 p.m.
Orange Empire Conference
Orange Coast 68, Santa Ana 50
SAC – Ohanesian 6, Ducat 0, Whisler 24, Smit 13, Gonzales 2, Hale 5.
3-pt. goals – Whisler 5, Smit 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
OCC – Arnett 15, Johnson 11, Armenta 16, Angel 8, Belmares 1, Davis 8, Bunting 5, Ballard 2, Wilson 2.
3-pt. goals – Armenta 4, Bunting 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
Halftime – OCC, 23-17.