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.