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Coach Roger See didn't panic, despite Fullerton's poor play early in Wednesday night's game.

But once his team was 12 points down to host Rancho Santiago he asked for a timeout.

After that break, Fullerton went on an impressive run, which ended in a 94-78 Orange Empire Conference men's basketball victory.

Rancho Santiago (15-7, 3-2) was impressive in the opening minutes and had a 30-18 lead with 9 minutes 6 seconds left in the first half.

"I didn't feel desperation at that point," See said. "I knew our guys were focused because (Rancho Santiago) kicked out butts in December."

See was referring to the Dons' 76-68 victory in the title game of the Crown City tournament in Pasadena.

"Coming into this game one of the first comments made among the players was (about the earlier loss)," said Kevin Carlson, a sophomore forward. "Anytime a team beats you, you want to beat them if you have the chance. You have to play with some pride."

Fullerton, which has won three in a row, used a 17-8 run keyed by Bobby Natoya to close to within three, 38-35, at the half. Natoya had 12 of his 21 points in the first half.

The Hornets (18-6, 3-2) started the second half with a 10-0 run, including three-pointers by Carlson and Natoya, and never trailed again.

At one point, the Hornets outscored the Dons 34-10 in a run that started in the first half and gave them a 52-40 lead with 14:49 left.

"That was the best second half we have played all season," See said.

Carlson had 18 of his 19 points, including eight in a row at one point, in the second half. Tyrone Merriweather had 12 of his 16 and Tamar Ross had 10 of his 16 in the second half.

Sean Amos and Matt Kordik had 22 each and Nick Holt added 20 for Rancho Santiago.

The Dons got within nine, 82-73, with 2:59 left but drew no closer.

Fullerton is at Cypress and Rancho Santiago is at Riverside in 7 p.m. games Friday.

In other Orange Empire Conference men's games:

Saddleback 83, Golden West 70--Tes Whitlock scored Saddleback's first 16 points of the second half and finished with a game-high 29. Visiting Saddleback led, 39-27, at the half but Golden West scored four in a row to get within 39-31. Whitlock then scored the next eight points and Saddleback (14-6, 4-1) pulled away.

Josh Borella and Antoine Jefferson had 15 points each for Saddleback, which is tied for first with Riverside. Chris Rieff scored 21 points for Golden West (8-13, 1-4). Saddleback is at Orange Coast at 7 p.m. and Golden West plays Irvine Valley at Capistrano Valley High at 8 p.m. Friday.

Riverside 102, Orange Coast 79--Darryle Flicking, held to 11 points in his last game, scored 42 points for visiting Riverside (18-5, 4-1). Orange Coast trailed, 68-50, with 13:12 left, then Derek Roche scored the next 11 points to help the Pirates cut the lead to 68-61 with 11:32 left. Roche had three three-pointers in the run and finished with 17 points.

Chauncey Woolridge scored 19 and Damion Morbley added 16 for Orange Coast (11-9, 1-4).

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