#8 Ranked Huskies Tame #3 Cougars in 2021 Home Debut
|Game Statistics||Canyons||East Los Angeles|
|Field Goal %||36.2%||48.4%|
|Pts off Turnovers||13||19|
|2nd Chance Pts||12||12|
|Pts in the Paint||34||40|
by Cerwin D Haynes
22 months and nine days. That's how long it's been since the East Los Angeles College women's basketball team has played a home game here at Monterey Park.
With the Covid shutdown of 2020, the Huskies had to wait until July of this year to get back onto campus to resume practices. Then, once the season began in early November, ELAC spent the first eight weeks on the road as head coach Bruce Turner looked to build the mettle and unity of the team. And then yesterday, with the Huskies back home to host the Okawa Classic, Turner's squad had to wait another day as Covid complications forced their scheduled opponent, West LA College, to hang back in Culver City. Tonight, the wait ended as ELAC finally took to their home floor against an opponent that they knew would not let them celebrate their homecoming without a fight - the third-ranked Cougars of College of the Canyons.
But there's always a method to Coach Turner's madness: the eight weeks on the road saw the Huskies take on the best in California, and the mettle formed in those eight weeks served East LA well as they beat the Cougars 83-65 on Day Two of the Classic. Swingman Naomi Winston-Ellis led the Huskies with 24 points on 9 of 17 shooting while hitting six of her 12 three-pointers, while do-everything lead guard Delilah Kimble-Gray chipped in with 15 points along with seven assists, six rebounds and four steals.
East LA set the tone for the game in the first quarter: trailing 4-2, the Pack established their lead on a 12-0 run. Winston-Ellis nailed consecutive three-balls, followed by short jumpers by Maya Clark and Sydney Patterson and capped with a steal and fast-break layup by Kimble-Gray. Two and a half minutes worth of flurry gave the Huskies a 14-4 lead, and the Green would end the quarter leading 21-10.
The second quarter followed a pattern: whenever Canyons would close the deficit under 10, ELAC would respond. In the second quarter, a Justice Walters jumper brought CoC within nine at 26-17 at the 5:31 mark. 32 seconds later, Winston-Ellis made another three to push the lead back to 12. A Lulu Salloom free throw would close the lead back down to eight, 34-26 with1:43 to go in the half. Winston-Ellis would again hit a jumper to bump the Huskies' lead back to ten, and the team would trade a free throw apiece to end the half with 37-27 ELAC lead.
East LA would continue to keep Canyons at an arm's reach throughout most of the third quarter, and used the fourth quarter to put away the Cougars. Kimble-Gray would hit a three-ball of her own with 9:07 left to increase the ELAC lead to 16, 63-47. After a tough Salloom basket down in the paint, Kimble-Gray would make a pair of free throws for a 65-51 lead. ELAC would force two missed shots by Canyons, and on the other end - that young lady again Winston-Ellis - canned another three to push the Huskies lead to 68-51 with 6:56 left. ELAC would increase their lead to as much as 20 before settling in for an 18-point win.
- Four of the five Huskies' starters scored in double-digits. In addition to Kimble-Gray and Winston-Ellis, sophomore F Maya Clark had 10 points with six rebounds and frosh G Isabel Arango scored 11 points, five boards and two blocks.
- Freshman G Destyni Heard came off the bench to chip in 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting.
- Canyons' freshman F LuLu Salloom did all she could to keep the Cougars in the game, notching an impressive outing of 32 points and 24 rebounds (seven offensive) which led all players.
The Okawa Classic will conclude tomorrow with two games (instead of the scheduled three) at 3pm and 5pm. ELAC will play in the 5pm game against the #7-ranked Moorpark Raiders.