Irvine Valley's women's basketball team won its biggest game at home in a number of years Wednesday night.
The Lasers put themselves in position to win an Orange Empire Conference title with a 69-58 victory over Cypress on sophomore night in Hart Gymnasium.
Irvine Valley improved its record to 18-11 overall and 9-2 in conference. The win was IVC's fifth straight and moved the Lasers into a tie with both Cypress and Fullerton at the top of the conference standings.
Irvine Valley plays at Fullerton on Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the final game of the regular season. Cypress finishes up at Orange Coast on Friday.
A win and IVC is guaranteed at least a share of the title.
Irvine Valley's last conference title came 14 years ago in Julie Hanks' first year as head coach for the Lasers.
IVC had a record of 13-1 in conference and 28-7 overall during the 1998-99 season and made the state tournament.
The 2011-12 Lasers took a step toward the conference title with an impressive second-half performance against Cypress on Wednesday.
The game was tied, 24-24, at halftime, but Irvine Valley out-scored Cypress, 45-34, in the second half.
Cypress, which was ranked 13th in the state, held a 31-25 lead early in the second half after a lay-up by Melissa Jensen with 16:50 to play.
But the Lasers went on a 11-5 run over the next four minutes to tie the score at 36-36.
The teams traded leads over the next several minutes. Cypress held a 46-45 advantage after two free throws by Jensen with 5:37 left.
Irvine Valley scored the next four points on a jumper by sophomore forward Jackie Fa'asamala
and then a basket by freshman forward Dominique Santos to go up, 49-46 with 5:01 left.
Irvine Valley never trailed again. Cypress got to within one point at 49-48, 51-50, and 53-52, but each time Irvine Valley had an answer.
And the Lasers stretched the lead in the final two minutes.
Ahead, 56-54, Irvine Valley went on a 11-2 run to go up, 67-56, and put the win away. During the run, freshman forward Shomari McCorkle made a three-point play and then a lay-up, sophomore forward Melanie Kashanchi hit two free throws, freshman guard Amber Wharton made two free throws and freshman guard Andrea Uceda made two free throws.
Uceda, who played her best game of the season for the Lasers in her most minutes, tacked on two more free throws in the final seconds for the final 69-58 score.
IVC shot 45.3 percent from the field (24 of 53) in the game, including 55.6 percent (15 of 27) in the second half. The Lasers were also clutch at the line in the second half, making 13 of 15 free throws. The Lasers went 16 of 19 from the charity stripe in the game.
Cypress out-rebounded IVC, 40-33, including 17-6 on the offensive end. But the Chargers shot just 38.7 percent from the floor (24 of 62) in the game and only 10 of 22 from the free throw line.
Irvine Valley also made five three-pointers in the game compared to none for Cypress.
Leading the way for Irvine Valley was Wharton with 14 points and six assists. McCorkle finished with 13 points and six rebounds in 38 minutes, Kashanchi had 12 points and seven assists and Uceda and Santos each contributed eight points. Uceda also tacked on four assists.
For the game, Irvine Valley shared the ball nicely with 21 assists on 24 made baskets.
Cypress (19-9 overall) was paced by Jensen with 18 points and eight rebounds and Chelsea Walton with 15 points and six assists.