The Cuesta College men’s basketball team faced a daunting challenge in the championship game of the Rabobank Tournament it hosts each year — defending California Community College Athletic Association champion and preseason unanimous No. 1 Saddleback College.
On Sunday, the Gauchos showed why they are the top team in the state, handing the Cougars a 78-64 defeat.
“That game may have been over in the first minute,” Cuesta head coach Rusty Blair said. “They blocked two shots on us and made two long 3-pointers. They were off and running, and our guys were intimidated.”
The Gauchos led 32-11 by the nine minute mark, shooting 80 percent from the floor, and rolled to the tournament title.
“You have to tip your hat to Saddleback, making 8 of 10 from three,” Blair said.
Meanwhile, Cuesta struggled, shooting 5 of 20 from the floor in the first half. The Cougars were outrebounded in the game, 29-23, and shot just 10 of 22 from the free-throw line.
Blair said the Cougars turned things around a little bit in the second half.
“What is positive is in the second half, we played full court man-to-man and were able to stay with them,” he said. “We actually outscored them in the second half. We can take something out of it from that standpoint.”
Forward Rafail Eleftheriou was injured in the game, suffering a blow to his eye. Blair said he is likely to be out for some time.
Daniel Solis and Evgeniy Moiseev scored 11 points each to lead Cuesta (2-1).