On a night when Irvine Valley had its worst offensive performance of the season, the Lasers got their biggest reward.
Irvine Valley, with a final score that seemed as if it should have come at halftime, beat visiting Saddleback, 51-37, in an Orange Empire Conference men’s basketball game Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Rancho Santiago upset first-place Fullerton, 71-66. Fullerton’s loss and Irvine Valley’s victory leave the teams tied at 8-1 for the top spot with five games left.
Irvine Valley and Saddleback struggled in all aspects of offense, but the worst was shooting.
Saddleback made 23% (14 of 62) of its shots and Irvine Valley 29% (16 of 55).
“We just couldn’t find anybody who could score baskets,” Saddleback Coach Bill Brummel said.
Irvine Valley (21-6) led at the half, 30-14, as Saddleback didn’t score in the final 4 minutes 47 seconds of the half. The scoring void continued for the first 2:11 of the second half as Irvine Valley built a 19-point lead.
Saddleback got as close as 10 the rest of the way, but neither team played with any consistency.
“I thought we were as stupid as we could be tonight in the last seven or eight minutes,” Irvine Valley Coach Jerry Hernandez said. “I really got mad at them.”
Daryl Todd had 13 points and Brandon Hearvey added 11 points and 11 rebounds for Irvine Valley. Saddleback (13-11, 4-5) got 13 points from Brian Scoggin.
In another Orange Empire Conference game:
Rancho Santiago 71, Fullerton 66--The victory was the 300th for Rancho Santiago Coach Dana Pagett, who is in his 14th season. Pagett’s career mark is 300-148. He also led the program to state titles in 1990 and 1991.
Brian Slusser scored 15 points for Rancho Santiago (14-10, 3-6). Brian Montonati had 22 for Fullerton (15-10, 8-1).
In Orange Empire Conference women’s basketball:
Fullerton 85, Rancho Santiago 56--Michelle deBruijn had 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for Fullerton (16-10, 4-3).