Story and photo by Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
IRVINE — No. 7 College of the Canyons Women’s Basketball had its season come to an end at the hands of No. 2 Irvine Valley College by an 80-43 final score on Saturday, with the Lasers using the victory to advance to the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship tourney.
Canyons (20-8) recorded its second-lowest point total of the season in the road loss to an Irvine Valley (25-2) team that did well in taking COC out of its game plan.
The Cougars struggled to a 25 percent shooting percentage and committed 28 turnovers in the contest, with 13 coming in the opening quarter. COC converted on just 4-of-20 three-pointers.
Those marks helped IVC establish a 45-24 lead at the break behind 13 first-half points from Jessica Suruor. The Lasers also received 16 bench points from Paea Tafea with eight coming in the second quarter. Surour would eventually lead all scorers with 21 points while Paula Roa had 12 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for Irvine Valley.
COC enjoyed some small bursts of success but never could break into its traditional style of play and was ultimately stifled offensively.
Bright spots for the Cougars included Justice Walters who finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds to lead COC in both categories. Monique Febles ended the night the 10 points, four rebounds and a pair of assists.
COC freshman forward LuLu Salloom, who was hampered by an ankle issue suffered in Thursday night’s playoff win over Orange Coast College, gutted her way through 31 minutes on the floor with five points, seven rebounds, a block and a steal. Malia Semana, an All-WSC selection along with Walters and Febles, scored eight points to go with five rebounds.
Canyons ends the season with 20 or more wins for the first time since the 2015-16 season. The Cougars’ playoff victory over OCC was also the program’s first since the 2010-11 campaign.
Meanwhile, COC head coach Greg Herrick moves his career victory total at the college to 611 after recaching his milestone 600th victory vs. Rio Hondo College on Dec. 17, 2021.
Salloom’s Western State Conference, South Player of the Year award was the 12th in program history, while her selection to the California Community College Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-State First-Team was the program’s first since 2018-19.
COC’s postseason appearance was the 25th in program history, and 24th under Herrick.
This season’s string of team and individual success comes one year removed from Canyons having its 2020-21 season cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When COC hosted its home opener on Jan. 17, it had been 697 days since the Cougars last played on their home floor. The Cougars also began the season with an 8-0 record, all road/neutral floor wins, to establish a program record.
Canyons finished the regular season tied for second with Bakersfield College in the Western State Conference, South Division standings, with both teams trailing conference champions Glendale College. However, Canyons was the only of those three programs to record a postseason win in 2022.
Stay up to date on all this season’s action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube or visit COC Athletics.
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