Women’s Basketball: Roadrunners can’t hold late lead, fall to Cypress in playoffs

Women’s Basketball: Roadrunners can’t hold late lead, fall to Cypress in playoffs

For three quarters, the Rio Hondo College women's basketball team appeared to be on its way to advancing in the Southern California Regional Playoffs. But the No. 8-seeded Roadrunners couldn't hang on to a fourth-quarter lead and suffered a 73-66 loss to visiting No. 9 Cypress College in a second-round game on Friday night in Whittier.

Rio Hondo came out firing in the first quarter, connecting on 9 of 17 shots, including 3 three-point buckets on its way to 21-8 lead. Cypress got back into the contest in the second quarter, but the Roadrunners held a 37-27 advantage at halftime and were up 52-46 after Kailey Gutierrez' jumper ended the third quarter.

In the fourth, a free throw by Candace Black extended the Roadrunners' lead to 55-48 at the 8:21 mark. From that point, Cypress took over. The Chargers responded with a 12-0 run to go out in front 60-55 with five minutes to play.

Rio Hondo fought its way back and got within one point at 60-59 after a pair of free throws by Amy Navarro with 4:07 left. But Cypress iced the victory with a 6-0 run to go up 66-59 with under a minute to play.

Cypress improved to 21-6 overall and got a team-high 20 points from Jessica Barrow. The Chargers will face the winner of No. 1 Moorpark College and No. 16 Riverside City College in Round 3 of the playoffs.

Navarro, playing in her final game for Rio Hondo, had a big night despite the loss. She led all with 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Black totaled 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists while Amanda Lee contributed 10 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds.

Rio Hondo closed out the season with a 20-9 overall record under third-year head coach Rene Herrera. The Roadrunners finished in second place in the South Coast Conference North Division with a 5-3 mark. Rio Hondo made its second straight postseason appearance and third overall since 2016.