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Community College Basketball Roundup : This Time, Rancho Santiago Keeps Fullerton Down, 69-59

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

The first time Rancho Santiago and Fullerton colleges met in an Orange Empire Conference men’s basketball game this season, Rancho Santiago opened a 10-point halftime lead only to lose by 21.

This time around, Rancho Santiago led by 13 at halftime, didn’t falter down the stretch and posted a 69-59 victory at Fullerton Saturday night in front of about 200.

The difference was the play of Rancho Santiago’s freshman guard Alvin Loftis, who scored a career-high 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the field.

Loftis had been held to four points when Fullerton defeated the Dons, 96-75, in the conference opener Jan. 4.

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“At halftime, we kept saying we couldn’t get down and let them come back,” Loftis said. “We didn’t want that to happen again after last time. Tonight, my teammates just set the picks to get me open.”

Rancho Santiago (15-8, 5-2 in conference play) opened leads of 17 points twice early in the second half after leading at halftime, 36-23.

Fullerton (17-8, 2-5) twice cut the lead to six points late but missed chances to get any closer.

Loftis had a steal and a layup to put Rancho Santiago ahead, 57-46, with 6:43 left. Chris Martin made a one-handed 10-footer to keep the Dons ahead, 59-51, with 3:24 left. After that, it was free-throw time.

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Loftis made four from the line, Matt Lien four and Mike Hunter two in the final 3 minutes to keep Fullerton away. Lien finished with 14 points.

“Loftis had a heck of a game,” Rancho Santiago Coach Dana Pagett said. “Not just offensively, either. He moved the ball well, and defensively he did a really nice job.”

Freshman forward Mike Goff scored 16 of his team-high 19 points in the second half for Fullerton. Darryl Griffin added 11 for the Hornets, who are playing without sophomore forward Geoff Adams. Adams was kicked off the team for disciplinary reasons by Coach Roger See last week.

In other Orange Empire Conference games:

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Cypress 80, Saddleback 78--Wendell Lauderdale scored from close range with 3 seconds remaining to lift Cypress (11-13, 3-4) at home. Saddleback (9-14, 2-5) tied the score at 78-78 on Brad Heckman’s driving hook in the lane with 19 seconds to play. Andre Lamoureux and Mike Varos scored 19 points each, and Vince Hizon added 16 for Cypress. Jun Versher scored 22 points and Bradd Heckman 21 for Saddleback.

Riverside 81, Golden West 66--After taking a 36-34 halftime lead, Riverside went on a 16-4 run--including 10 points by Bobby Joyce--in the second half to take a 52-38 lead and coasted home. Joyce, a former Santa Ana High School standout, scored a game-high 22 points for Riverside. Steve Moser and Markus Muller-Stach scored 21 points each for Golden West (17-9, 2-5).


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