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Smith Propels Women's Basketball To 7th Straight State Final 8

Smith Propels Women's Basketball To 7th Straight State Final 8 image

Kim Smith experienced the high of being on a state champion team last year as a freshman. She wouldn't mind another shot at the state trophy as a sophomore. The veteran guard rose to the occasion Saturday night as she scored 23 points to help the No. 4 seed Pasadena City College women's basketball team down No. 5 Riverside, 65-56, in the Southern California Regional Bracket IV Finals.

The Lancers advance to the CCCAA State Final 8 Tournament for the seventh consecutive season under head coach Joe Peron. Pasadena improved to 25-4 overall and extended its undefeated run at its home gym in the postseason. PCC is 16-0 in all playoff games played at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium. 

Smith scored 10 of her points in the first half as PCC rallied from a 24-19 deficit and took a 34-33 halftime lead. With both teams in a chess match early on in the second half, Smith went the length of the court for a layup to make it 38-33. Seconds later, she stole the ball at halfcourt and raced in for another basket to make it 40-33 with 15:19 left.

Reserve forward Melanie Araula sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key for a 49-42 advantage with nine minutes left. Riverside (22-9) wouldn't quit and went on a 14-5 run to tie it, 54-54, with 3:14 remaining. 

Smith again played leader for the Lancers as she slithered through the lane to hit a layup-plus-one as her 3-point play gave PCC the lead for good, 57-54, with 2:56 to go in the contest. After Alexis Fowler cut the lead to 57-56 on a layup, Smith drew a foul on the next possession, sank 2 free throws and put the lead back to 3. Reserve guard Stephanie DeFrance would make 4 free throws in the final 93 seconds to put the game out of reach. 

Free throws were a big factor in the regional final as PCC made 26 of 36 charity shots (72.2 percent) compared to just 6-for-18 (33.3 percent) by Riverside. Smith converted 9-of-13 free throws. Center Dominique Scott was 5-for-6 from the line and guard Anna Shahinian swished 6-for-8 at the 15-foot mark. 

Smith was 7-for-12 from the field and led all Pasadena players in minutes played at 37. The 5-foot-8 Chatsworth High product is 13 points shy of becoming the fourth player in PCC history to reach 1,000 points in her career. Her current total of 987 points is five shy of tying both Jackie Sadler (1996-98) and Easter Faafiti (2007-2009) for No. 4 on the all-time scoring list. 

Against Riverside, Scott, a freshman from Palisades High, tallied a double-double on 15 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore guard Melissa Fudge, the star of the regional semifinals win over Irvine Valley, added 10 points. DeFrance, a redshirt freshman from Blair High, totaled 5 points, 7 rebounds, and team highs with 4 assists and 4 steals. 

Shahinian added 6 points and Araula 5 points. Araula's 3 was the only long-range shot made by PCC in the game.

"I really felt like I had to do something tonight because my play slacked off the last few games," Smith said. "I knew I had to be a leader. Coach Peron said we needed to penetrate through the paint, and that's what we ultimately did.  We badly wanted to get back to the state tournament."

For Riverside, Maria Mesa-Nauls, Gloria Thomas and Crystal Vasquez each scored 10 points.

The Tigers opened the game in an odd fashion as guard Arianna Obyebanji captured the opening tip and raced to the wrong basket. Right as she was about to shoot, she realized her mistake and was able to stop herself before passing it back the other direction. Riverside then finished the half with Fowler hitting a halfcourt shot at the buzzer.

PCC will go into the CCCAA Final 8 as the South No. 4 seed and will face the same team it faced in last year's quarterfinals--City College of San Francisco, the No. 1 seed from the North region. This year's tournament takes place at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, beginning Thursday, March 11. The semifinals and finals will also be played at CLU's Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center Saturday-Sunday, March 13-14. Game times to be announced. 

Last year, PCC defeated CCSF, 95-93, in overtime on its way to the 2009 state title.

In 14 seasons behind the PCC bench, Peron is 29-11 in playoff games and is one victory shy of his milestone 350th career head coaching triumph. 

[Photo-Kim Smith brings the ball upcourt during PCC's 65-56 regional final victory over Riverside Saturday night at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium, image by Richard Quinton.]

Release Date: 03/06/10
Robert Lewis, Sports Information
Phone: 626-585-7018, Email: rmlewis@pasadena.edu