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Cavaletto hits game-winning 3 as Vaqueros steal a win, 51-48

Freshman Sierra Cavaletto drained a 3-pointer from the corner to put SBCC ahead for the first time, 49-48, with 30.2 seconds left. (Photo by Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography)
Freshman Sierra Cavaletto drained a 3-pointer from the corner to put SBCC ahead for the first time, 49-48, with 30.2 seconds left. (Photo by Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography)

SBCC outscored De Anza 10-0 in the last 2:53 on Friday night and Sierra Cavaletto tossed in the game-winning bucket as the Vaqueros rallied for a 51-48 win in the first round of the MTXE Tournament in the Sports Pavilion.

Santa Barbara (3-0) fell behind 14-3 in the first eight minutes and trailed 29-21 at the half. The Vaqueros fell behind by seven (48-41) when Hannah Lee hit two free throws for De Anza (0-3) with just under three minutes to play.

Meagan Moore and Jennae Mayberry made back-to-back steals on the press and Mayberry converted a layup and free throw to cut the deficit to four points. SBCC misfired on its next three shots, then Lauren Noggle tossed in a 5-foot bank shot on an assist from Aaliyah Pauling to pull the Vaqueros within a basket, 48-46, at 0:42.

The Dons turned it over in the backcourt and Noggle fed Cavaletto, who got free in the right corner for a 3-pointer that gave the Vaqueros their first lead of the game, 49-48, with 30.2 seconds left.

"It all goes back to practice where we do situations like that with the clock running down," said Cavaletto, a 5-8 guard from Dos Pueblos High who nailed an 18-foot buzzer-beater from nearly the same spot to knock off Taft 69-68 in the season opener seven days ago. "We were prepared for that. They put me in off the bench and you always have to be ready and know what to do.

"We just needed to communicate and get back on track in the second half. We always seem to be able to turn bad into good."

The key 3-pointer was Cavaletto's only bucket of the night.

Pauling led the Vaqueros with 19 points, 14 rebounds and three steals. Moore added 11 points and Noggle, another DP alum, contributed 10 points, 15 rebounds and three steals.

Pauling hit 1-of-2 free throws at 19.6 seconds and 4.7 seconds to make it 51-48. Rilizza Isla (8 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds) had a good look at a 3-pointer but it glanced off the left side of the rim as time expired.

Lee topped the Dons with 14 points while Yasmin Woodruff had 12 points and 14 rebounds off the bench.

Santa Barbara won despite shooting just 29.5% and turning the ball over 21 times. After 15 turnovers in the first half, the Vaqueros only had six in the last 20 minutes. De Anza also had a tough shooting night (29.9%) and turned it over 24 times.

"De Anza took us out of our rhythm in the first three quarters," said coach Sandrine Krul. "Give credit to their coach, Mike Allen, he does a great job. We went to a zone in the fourth quarter and that made all the difference.

"We kept getting beat off the dribble, so going to a zone made a lot of sense."

The Vaqueros opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run and pulled within three, 18-15, on a corner 3 by Pauling and a steal by Lei Talaro that led to a Pauling layup. But De Anza responded with a 9-0 run of its own to go up 27-15.

Cavaletto was 1-4 from the field and 1-2 on 3-pointers. She's 2-for-2 on game-winning shots in her first three college games.

"Sierra hit another big shot," noted Krul. "Everyone knows what they're doing and they always give maximum effort even when we're playing poorly. That's MTXE (Mental Toughness, Extra Effort) at its finest – you never quit playing no matter what."

In other first-round games, MiraCosta (3-0) defeated Chabot 92-78, Cabrillo downed San Mateo 76-63 and in the late game, Solano got past Victor Valley 64-56.

The Vaqueros will take on Solano (2-2) in the second semifinal on Saturday at 8 p.m. MiraCosta and Cabrillo will square off in the first semifinal at 6 p.m.