LOS ANGELES — With a 16-point advantage on the verge of evaporating, the Holy Family basketball team turned to one of its more reliable outside shooters.

Tabitha Ruiz quickly quieted the packed house with a display of clutch shooting that restored the Gaels' momentum.

Ruiz finished with a game-high 21 points, including 11 in the pivotal third quarter, to propel visiting Holy Family to a 51-34 Horizon League win against L.A. Sacred Heart of Jesus on Thursday at Lincoln Park Recreation Center.

Holy Family (3-13, 2-2 in league) held a 26-10 lead a minute into the third quarter before Sacred Heart trimmed the deficit to 26-21 midway through the stanza.

Ruiz, a sophomore guard, then went to work. Ruiz made two three-pointers to give Holy Family a 34-22 lead late in the third frame. Her first bucket gave the Gaels a 29-21 lead with 2:45 remaining and ended an 11-0 run by the Comets.

"I just felt like we needed more effort with our shooting," said Ruiz, who finished with five three-pointers and added seven rebounds and four assists. "I figured I would try making some outside shots.

"It got a little nerve-wracking when they got closer to us, but we were able to bounce back and it's good to be 2-2 in league."

Holy Family received 13 points from senior guard Melissa Chan and 11 rebounds from junior guard Charisse Talaro to top the Comets in the first of a pair of head-to-head matchups. The teams will meet again at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at Pacific Park Community Center.

Ruiz made another three-pointer to give the Gaels a commanding 40-24 lead with 6:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Holy Family Coach Ernest Siy said Ruiz provided the Gaels with an offensive boost with her long-range shooting.

"She told her teammates during a timeout [in the third quarter] that she wanted the ball," said Siy, whose team held a 24-10 halftime lead. "She went out there and responded.

"We were in a scoring drought and started to commit a lot of silly fouls before she started making those shots. We needed this win."

Sacred Heart got eight points, 18 rebounds and four blocks from Fabiola Del Toro.

Holy Family will next take part in a nonleague contest at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday against host Pasadena Armenian General Benevolent Union.

charles.rich@latimes.com