There was a distinct sound in the Rancho Santiago College gym Wednesday night while the Dons were defeating Golden West, 88-72, in an Orange Empire Conference men's basketball game.
The noise was the rim being rammed down, then snapping back into place after a dunk. Rancho Santiago forward Erik Martin had six slams, including five in a row in the second half, and center Corie Blount had five. Each missed a dunk as well.
It was the 18th consecutive victory for Rancho Santiago (21-1, 3-0), which ties the school record set by the 1986-87 team. The victory also give the Dons sole possession of first place in the conference. Golden West (10-11, 2-1) had been tied for the lead.
Golden West managed to make it a game for the first half. The Rustlers led by two points, 21-19, with 7:19 to go in the half, but fell behind, 36-29, at the break.
Rancho Santiago, the top-ranked team in the state, moved up to its usual speed in the second half and pulled away. The Dons went on a 13-4 run to start the half and led, 49-33, with 16:31 left.
"We played a little bit better in the second half," Rancho Santiago Coach Dana Pagett said. "Maybe we were a little more determined. We just worked hard until we got it up to a comfortable margin."
Martin had game-highs in points with 24 and rebounds with 11. He leads Rancho Santiago in scoring this season with a 22.5 average.
Blount had 19 points and 10 rebounds and guard Brett Pagett had 16 points, 14 in the second half. Pagett missed five consecutive three-point tries, then hit two in a row during a second-half stretch in which he scored eight consecutive points.
Rancho Santiago build the lead to 31 points at 88-57 with about three minutes left, but Golden West scored the final 15 points of the game.
Guards Ric Van Scoyoc (21 points) and Tom Dever (13) were the only Golden West players in double figures.