Tisa Rush landed on her backside but came up smiling. The Valley College freshman guard was so happy about sinking a layup that she felt little pain from the fall.
"I had been bricking on my layups tonight, so I was relieved just to get one in," Rush said.
Rush scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Valley women's basketball team to an 84-68 victory over College of San Mateo in a California junior college championship quarterfinal game at Valley on Thursday night.
The Lady Monarchs (30-3) will play Fullerton College (27-1), a 87-70 winner over Contra Costa, in the semifinals at 8 tonight.
College of the Sequoias (34-3) will play American River College (27-4) at 6 tonight in the other semifinal game. Sequoias defeated Golden West, 80-61, and American River was a 77-62 winner over Los Angeles Trade Tech in earlier games.
By virtue of the play of Rush and Christine Rumfola, who added 16 points, Valley had a relatively easy time dispatching San Mateo. The Lady Monarchs led, 42-33, at halftime and did not allow the Bulldogs (29-2) within 10 points in the second half.
Yet despite the Lady Monarchs' lead, Valley Coach Doug Michelson remained wary of the Bulldogs, who had won 21 consecutive games before Thursday.
"I have been around basketball long enough to know that a 10-point lead in the second half is not enough," Michelson said.
Rush broke open a close game with a three-point shot as time ran out in the first half.
"That was a huge momentum play for us," Michelson said. "She had a great offensive game, but she also did a great job defensively on a big-time point guard, (Eleanor) Wells."
San Mateo led for the first seven minutes until Valley pulled even, 11-11, on Rush's first three-point basket. Rush added a basket 28 seconds later to put Valley ahead to stay.
Rush, who averages 11.5 points and 3.8 assists a game, was three for three from three-point range and made nine of 14 field-goal tries.
Shagarro Lattin added 14 points for Valley and Sandrine Rocher scored 12 points off the bench. Center Ruth Aguilar, who averages a team-high 14.7 points a game, sat out part of the second half because of foul trouble and added only seven points.
Lattin filled in for Aguilar on the boards with six rebounds to lead Valley, which has won 14 games in a row.
Valencia Hedgebeth scored 21 points for San Mateo and center Pauline Manu added 15.