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Pauling nets career-high 31 in 87-82 third-place victory

Jennae Mayberry had a solid all-around game with seven points, eight assists, three rebounds and three steals. (Photo by Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography)
Jennae Mayberry had a solid all-around game with seven points, eight assists, three rebounds and three steals. (Photo by Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography)

Aaliyah Pauling tossed in a career-high 31 points on Sunday, leading SBCC to an 87-82 women's basketball win over MiraCosta in the third-place game of the Vaqueros' MTXE Tournament.

Pauling scored 19 points in the first half and the Vaqueros (4-1) won the second quarter 27-15 to take a 50-39 halftime advantage. SBCC was a sizzling 9-12 from 3-point country in the opening half and shot 58.8% for the game (10-17).

Pauling, a 6-foot guard from Spokane, Wash., had six rebounds and six assists, just 16 hours after a 25-point, 9-rebound, 9-assist performance in a semifinal loss to Solano. She earned all-tournament honors.

"We all had our legs under us and we weren't rushing our shots like we did in the last two games," said Pauling, after draining 12-of-16 from the field and 4-5 from downtown. "A lot of it was because we shot the ball in the flow of the offense rather than just jacking up a shot.

"We played really well in the tournament. It was a bummer that we had to lose last night but it humbled us and made us come back stronger."

Meagan Moore hit 3-6 on 3-pointers and added 14 points. Point guard Lei Talaro had 10 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists. Tatiana Ong provided seven points and six boards off the bench and Jada Forsdick-Stevenson scored a season-high nine points on 3-5 long-distance shooting.

Jennae Mayberry added seven points, eight assists and three steals.

The Vaqueros outshot the Spartans 53.7% to 41.4% and prevailed despite committing 32 turnovers that led to 39 points.

"That was great shooting for us and we showed our collective focus and the talent that we have," said associate head coach Devin Engebretsen. "We have really good shooters and we had a nice team meeting beforehand and asked the girls to step up. They did on both ends of the floor against a really good MiraCosta team."

The high-scoring Spartans (3-2) are No. 10 in state scoring, averaging 80.2 points a game. They won the third stanza 28-19 to pull within two at 69-67. The Vaqueros took control with a 16-4 run to open the fourth quarter, stretching the lead to 14 points (85-71) on a layup by Pauling off an in-bound pass from Ong with 5:14 to play.

Santa Barbara only scored two points in the last five minutes (a layup by Ong at 3:50) but still had enough to win.

"I was  worried about how we'd defend them because they're such a high-scoring team," Engebretsen added. "They scored 92 and 80 the last two days and our girls did a great job. Today was more of an open-court game with a lot of running and a lot of shooting.

"Aaliyah had a great tournament. She's kind of the engine of the train and when she gets going, the other girls feed off of her. At the same time, we can't solely rely on her."

Cabrillo (3-0) beat Solano 90-80 to claim the title of the eight-team tournament. Tourney MVP Heleyna Hill, a 5-6 sophomore point guard, poured in a tournament-high 39 points while grabbing nine rebounds and handing out seven assists.

Chabot (3-1) won the consolation title, routing Victor Valley 80-54 behind 20 points and 10 rebounds from Zakiya Mahoney.

After playing five home games in 10 days, the Vaqueros will be on the road for the next 10 weeks. They'll take the next 2 1/2 weeks off, then play Imperial Valley (Nov. 30) and Victor Valley (Dec. 1) in the Victor Valley Crossover.