Sigh of relief for women's basketball

The last time the Lady Corsairs tasted victory, the new year had not even started yet. As the clock ticked down to zero, the looks on the players' faces said it all.

In the midst of a trying season, the Santa Monica College women's basketball team could hold their heads a little bit higher on Wednesday night.

On the heels of an eight game losing streak, the Lady Corsairs came out strong, en route to a 56-47 victory over the Glendale Vaqueros. Prior to the game, SMC was the only team in the Western State South Division who had not yet recorded a conference win.

For a large portion of the season, the Lady Corsairs have been a team of two halves. They may start strong, but falter as the game progresses.

This game appeared to be no different. Despite getting out to a decent start, SMC found themselves trailing 24-22 at halftime, thanks to a Glendale three to beat the buzzer.

"We weren't rebounding well in the first half," said head coach Lydia Strong.

Despite losing the early momentum and falling behind, the Lady Corsairs regrouped and turned it up a notch in the second half.

After trailing 28-26, the Lady Corsairs used a 14-0 run to take a commanding 41-28 lead. There would be no looking back after that.

The Lady Corsairs used a combination of defense and rebounding to solidify their victory.

The second half surge was fueled by reserve forward Asia Watts and starting guard Aniese Palmore, both of whom crashed the glass relentlessly, keeping the ball alive and gaining extra possessions for the team. Watts and Palmore combined for 16 rebounds, 11 of them coming on the offensive end.

Their defense was powered by a smothering press that the Lady Corsairs had not shown before.

"My assistant coaches worked on the press in practice," said Strong. "And we executed it beautifully."

The press, as well as an strong overall defensive performance, helped limit Glendale star guard Olivia Ochoa.

"Our goal was to limit [Ochoa]; she killed us the last time around," said Strong. "She takes about half their shots and I think we did our job."

The Lady Corsairs were led offensively by reserve guard J'miayah Alston, who came off the bench to score 13 points. Starting forward Hannah Naefke chipped in with 10.

With only a couple of games remaining in the season, the Lady Corsairs look to close out the season on a higher note. Their last home game of the year will be Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the Los Angeles Valley Monarchs.