Community College Women's Basketball Playoffs : Golden West Tops Sacramento City

It was business as usual but with an added surprise as Golden West College defeated Sacramento City, 84-70, in a women's state community college basketball quarterfinal Thursday at Cypress College.

Jeannine Battaglia and April Marion, who have been the Rustlers' leading scorers all season, made their usual contributions. Battaglia scored a game-high 26 points and Marion added 19.

The surprise came from Jane Utu, a freshman forward who averaged 10 points a game this season. She scored 23 points, 18 in the second half, to help the Rustlers (33-1) win their 17th consecutive game.

Utu was 9 for 12 from the field and 5 for 6 from the free-throw line. Golden West shot 52% from the field (34-65) and 69% from the line (16-23).

Sacramento City (21-13) shot only 40% from the field (31-77).

Golden West advanced to a semifinal against American River at 8 p.m. tonight.

College of the Sequoias plays Merritt in the other semifinal at 6 p.m. The winners play Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the championship game at Cypress.

"You just kind of forget about her (Utu)," said Dick Stricklin, Golden West coach. "The other teams concentrate so much on April and Jeannine that they forget about Jane and Stacy Barnes, who have been doing a good job all season."

The Rustlers (33-1) opened a 42-30 first-half lead behind 16 points from Battaglia, who was 13 for 20 from the field but 0 for 3 from the line. Eight of Battaglia's points came on fast breaks that Golden West established after Sacramento City went to a full-court press for most of the first half.

Sacramento City abandoned the press in the second half but could never establish any offense as Golden West continued to expand the lead.

Utu scored 10 of Golden West's first 14 points in the second half as the Rustlers opened the lead to 56-36.

Tosha Irby scored 17 points and Michelle Hesse 15 points for Sacramento City.

In other quarterfinal games:

American River 64, Riverside 60--Lolita Stokes scored 19 points as the Beavers (23-9) eliminated the defending state champion Tigers (22-8). Adrienne Drake scored 20 for Riverside.

College of the Sequoias 70, L.A Trade Tech 56--Stacy Brown scored 28 points to lead the Giants (33-0), the top-ranked team in the state. She was 13 for 16 from the field. L.A. Trade Tech ended the season 26-4.

Merritt 58, Los Angeles Valley 41--Yasmin Gray scored 18 points and Audrey Moore 16 for the Thunderbirds (24-8).

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