NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Playing tournament host as well as in its home opener, the Glendale Community College women’s basketball team relied on solid defense to get in the win column for the first time of the young season.
But as coach Carrie Miller showed, her players didn’t really have a choice.
After a sluggish start against Mira Costa in both teams’ first game of the Vaquero Shootout, Miller pulled all five of her starters with just over four minutes elapsed in the first half.
The move sparked the Vaqueros, who took a lead shortly after and never looked back in a 55-48 win over the Spartans Friday night at Glendale college.
“I told the girls they better play defense or they’re coming out,” said Miller, whose squad will play Irvine Valley College Saturday night at 7. “The bench did a good job of bringing the energy.”
The Vaqueros (1-2) went on a 21-2 run in a span of 11 minutes in the first 20-minute frame, resulting in a 26-11 lead. The Spartans scored five points with under a minute remaining, but Glendale’s full court press proved potent, as the Spartans shot 21% from the field and committed 13 turnovers.
When Mira Costa cut the Vaqueros’ lead down to five at 28-23, Miller again pulled all five starters out of the game. While the Spartans kept it close throughout the second half, the Vaqueros were able to make the clutch shots needed to keep their opponents at a distance despite making just nine of 33 attempts.
Olivia Ochoa scored eight of her team-high 13 points in the second half.
Flintridge Sacred Heart graduate Lana Haddad did the work inside and finished with a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Megan Fennessy led the Spartans with 13 points. Yasmin Kamani and Angelina Hix each added nine points in the losing effort.
Glendale opened the 2012-2013 season with two losses to Santa Barbara and Fullerton at a tournament hosted by Santa Barbara. For Miller, it’s about constant improvement.
“We played hard, but we still need a lot of work,” Miller said. “We need to play smart consistently for 40 minutes, not give up points at the line and not turn the ball over.”