Extra effort and offensive rebounding led the College of the Canyons women’s basketball team to victory on Wednesday over the visiting Bakersfield College Renegades.
Canyons won the game, 70-57, after out-rebounding Bakersfield, 42-32, with 15 offensive boards.
Western State Conference South Player of the Year LuLu Salloom led the way inside the paint with 15 rebounds along with 11 points, three steals and three blocks.
“LuLu has taken care of the rebounding,” said COC coach John Wissmath. “She’s probably got to be in the top two in the state. We have been doing a good job with that.”
Bakersfield (7-17, 3-7) had an offensive explosion in the second half with 40 points after finishing the first half with just 17. The Renegades were led by Elise Enriquez, who poured in 21 of her 25 points in the second half. Enriquez went 6-of-10 from 3-point land to lead her team’s comeback.
The Cougars (14-9, 8-2) were able to hold off the scoring thanks to sophomore Natalie Satamian. The sophomore guard hit four straight long jumpers, three of which came from behind the arc.
“It wasn’t really a surprise,” Satamian said. “I love shooting. It’s something I work on a lot. So just to see them fall was really nice. Hopefully they stay going in for me.”
Satamian finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Freshman Hannah Tolentino also played well for the Cougars. While the first-year player didn’t shoot great, she made up for it on the boards, snagging five of her six rebounds off the offensive glass. Tolentino also added seven points and two assists.
COC swept the Renegades on the year as the team nears the end of the regular season. Canyons took game one in Bakersfield, 68-37.
“I think we performed better in game one,” Satamian said. “But in game two, we had some solid stuff. A lot of good passing, a lot of sharing the ball. It was fun, but I think we could have done a lot better this time around.”
The Cougars have one of the smaller rotations in the conference but have recently brought back starting guard April Tuason from injury. While the team takes pride in winning with such a small team, the group will take all of the help it can get with playoffs looming.
Wissmath believes his team has turned the corner. After starting 6-8, COC has locked in and won seven of its last eight, with the one loss coming by one point in overtime.
“Yeah, I do,” Wissmath said when asked if he believes the team has turned the corner. “They’re starting to understand how to move the ball and share with each other a little bit more. It’s not about me, it’s about the team. They’re starting to understand if we can do those types of things that we can be pretty darn good, because we have a strong five or six girls that can get in there and mix it up here with any other team.”
Canyons is looking strong in the second swing of conference play, with the title still in the team’s sights. COC will be on the road Saturday at Citrus for a conference game at 5 p.m.
The Cougars will look to keep the same winning recipe of tough rebounding and playing together.
“Honestly, we had a bumpy start,” Satamian said. “It’s because we weren’t playing together. So, I think we’ve identified everybody’s strengths and weaknesses and we’ve finally come together. I think that’s what’s really helping us: just sharing the ball, knowing what and when. I think we’re just playing together and it’s fun now.”