Carly Saraceno felt her Elgin Community College women's basketball teammates needed a lift 5 minutes into the second half Thursday night.
Black Hawk College had cut what was an 11-point deficit to 5, 30-25. Saraceno answered by hitting a 3-pointer with 14:51 remaining to spark an 11-0 run as the Spartans opened a big lead and went on to a 59-42 victory in the quarterfinals of the Region IV Tournament.
"I felt like I had to step up. I wasn't making any shots," Saraceno said. "It was kind of like a pickup, kind of kicked everyone in the butt. We shouldn't be that close to them. It shouldn't have been that close."
The Spartans (24-6) will play at Illinois Valley Community College at 6 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals.
ECC struggled early Thursday. The Spartans hit just 3 of their first 15 shots and trailed 7-6 with 12 minutes remaining in the first half. A steal and layup from Saraceno started ECC's first 11-0 run. Saraceno had 6 points and Alex Dumoulin had 5 as the Spartans took a 17-7 lead with 6:58 remaining in the opening half. ECC was 5-for-8 from the floor during the run.
"I think we were all jacked up a little bit. We're all super-hyped for the game," Dumoulin said of the poor shooting start. "This is the postseason. This is what you look forward to. I think the nerves got us there. Eventually we were able to cool down and play our game."
Saraceno hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Spartans a 28-17 lead at halftime. An offensive putback and then a 3-point play from Elizabeth Groter got the Warriors within 5, 30-25, with 15:07 remaining in the game.
Four different players scored in ECC's 11-0 run that put the game away.
"(Saraceno) is a great shooter. And then we put the ball in her hands at the end," Spartans coach Jerry McLaughlin said. "She made some big plays."
Dumoulin led ECC with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Saraceno finished with 19 points, 3 rebounds and 4 steals.