The Long Beach City College women's basketball team entered play today after defeating LA Southwest this past Wednesday night and looked to ride the momentum in conference action by facing off against the Cerritos College Falcons on Friday night. With the game looking grim in the fourth quarter and the Vikings having only four players on the court, Long Beach rose to the occasion and reigned supreme with freshman guard Janay Wellington (S. D. Paradise Hills, CA) draining the game-winning free throw with one second left in a 60-59 victory.
The Vikings went on a tear in the first quarter by outscoring the Falcons 20-9. Sophomore guard Vivian Hernandez (Downey, CA) set the hardwood on fire by going 4-for-6 from downtown. Sandwiched between two of her triples were two made free throws from freshman guard Tiana Augustus (Long Beach, CA). She added a jumper later on, followed by a layup from Wellington leading to the early advantage.
In the second quarter, Augustus continued to remain effective by knocking down two running layups early and later assisted on a layup from sophomore center Miranda Martinez (Placentia, CA). Freshman guard Alexis Camarena (Ventura, CA) chipped in a three pointer to help maintain a 12 point advantage. Hernandez closed out the second quarter by flushing two-consecutive shots beyond the arc en route to a 36-27 advantage at halftime.
The second half told a different tale, as the Falcons began to heat up from distance. Additionally, their offensive rebounding was off the charts allowing them multiple second-chance opportunities. With under two minutes to go, a 12-4 run by Cerritos helped them pull within three points of LBCC. Two free throws and a layup by Augustus gave them a larger cushion with the scoreboard reading 48-41 entering into the final 10 minutes of action.
Martinez began to play bigger in the fourth quarter by kicking off the Viking scoring with a layup. She continued on to link up with freshman guard CeAirra Clement (Long Beach, CA) for an and-one play to push the Viking's lead back to 10 points.
However, the lack of defensive intensity on the boards allowed for multiple second-chance opportunities leading to the Falcons pulling within three points at 54-51 with a hair over three minutes remaining. To make matters worse, Martinez and Augustus – two of the most potent offensive weapons for the Vikings throughout the season – fouled out of the game, leaving four players on the court for the Vikings.
The Falcons eventually gained their first lead of the contest with one minute remaining in the game.
With their backs against the wall, the Vikings began to shoot their way out of a corner all thanks to the clutch performance of Wellington.
With 22 second remaining, Wellington worked her way to the charity stripe to make one free throw. Following that possession, Wellington corralled an inbounds pass from Clement and went coast-to-coast and finger rolled a layup that sunk to the bottom of the net to bring Long Beach back within two points of the lead.
In a must-foul scenario on the following possession, the Falcon's Angie Ferreira clanked two free throws and Camarena came down with the rebound. Camarena dished the ball out to Wellington once again who attempted to punch her ticket to the hoop once again, but the ball leaned on the front iron and dropped out of the circle.
Despite missing, Wellington hauled in her 13 and most crucial board of the contest and went up strong to the bucket and drew a foul. She promptly followed by drilling both free throws en route to a thrilling, 60-59 victory.
"Unbelievable," uttered Head Coach Mike Anderson in shock after the victory. "Four on five, down three points with 20 seconds to go...there was a movie made a long time ago called 'True Grit'. They girls had true grit tonight."
The Vikings are now riding a two-game conference winning streak and Anderson continues to harp on his game-by-game philosophy.
"We are just going to try and win one game at a time. After losing two of your best players in the last minutes of the game is hard. We had to be creative."
The Vikings (11-12, 2-2 SCC) will continue on to host ECC-Compton on Wednesday, February 1 at 7 p.m.