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STOCKTON - Gina Johnson and the Delta College women's basketball team couldn't have asked for a more exciting finish to their CCCAA Regional final.
The top-seeded Mustangs made four 3-pointers to start the second half and rallied for an 82-71 victory over No. 4 Sierra College on Saturday at Joe Blanchard Gymnasium to advance to the state champion-ships next week at Cerritos College in Norwalk.
Johnson and the Mustangs, along with assistant coaches and trainers, took a plunge into June Fergusson Pool following the final buzzer after holding off the Wolverines, who led by nine points in the first half.
"It was probably the best second half we've played all season against a quality team," said Johnson, whose team improved to 27-5. "I told my team we were in a good spot only down three at the half. I felt they would get tired and wouldn't score as well. I was really pleased with the way the team dug in and took control. We played better defense, rebounded and made some big shots."
Trailing 35-32 at the half, Delta's Kelci Haueter made two 3-pointers, and Karleasha Thompson and Selina Moore pushed the team to a nine-point advantage .
Marshanique Hall scored 12 of her team high 15 points in the second half, and Haueter had 14 points.
"Delta's a very good team and they hit their shots," said Sierra coach Brandi Murrish, whose Wolverines fell to 23-9. "Delta dominated the boards against us. We wish them the best of luck representing the Big 8 at state."
Ericka Magana scored a game-high 26 points, including two of Sierra's six 3-pointers, and Jasmine Shedrick scored 17 points.
But the key was defense. The Mustangs held Joie Camalo, the Wolverines' leading scorer, to a 3-pointer in the first half and two free throws in the second half.
"We knew Sierra was going to be ready against us," Haueter said. "But we came out and hit those shots and that gave us the momentum we needed. It's a rivalry game between two of the best teams in the toughest conference in California."
San Joaquin Delta College