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COC hoops gets by Palomar

Posted: December 27, 2013 10:56 p.m.
Updated: December 27, 2013 10:56 p.m.

College of the Canyons' Roman Delgado goes up for a shot as Palomar's Jeremy Franklin defends Friday at COC.

 

At this point in the season when things hit a lull, College of the Canyons men’s basketball will take any kind of win it can get.

The COC Cougars pulled away in a close game in the final six minutes to beat the Palomar College Comets 53-40 on Friday night at COC in the first round of the Cougar Holiday Classic.

Palomar didn’t score a point in the last 6:53 of the game.

“We found a way,” said COC head coach Howard Fisher. “I think both teams played hard and our size helped.”

Dalibor Nonkovic led the Cougars (5-6) with 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists in a game where neither team was able to generate much offense.

COC will play Orange Coast in the second round today at 7 p.m. A win would put the Cougars in the finals on Sunday.

Friday was just COC’s third game since Dec. 8, and it snapped a three-game losing skid despite playing without starting guard David Horst.

He was out with a strained groin which will likely keep him out of action until the start of conference play on Jan. 8, Fisher said.

But a scrappy defensive effort by the Cougars and a poor shooting performance by the Comets (4-9) proved the difference.

Palomar shot 26.5 percent for the game, yet the score remained tight most of the way through.

“I don’t know who our shooting coach is, but he’s fired,” said Palomar head coach John O’Neill.

The Cougars led 27-24 at halftime and weren’t able to create separation as the Comets protected the post on defense.

Nonkovic was able to make it inside just enough times in the game. Teammates Roman Delgado and Clay Kasdorf each scored 10 points.

“They were switching every screen and it was hard to get an open look,” Nonkovic said. “But we kept trying and we eventually got there.”

Kasdorf hit a key 3-pointer off the backboard late in the shot clock to give COC a 49-40 lead with 2:18 to play.

It ended up being the last made field goal of the night.

At one point the Comets closed the gap to 41-40, but COC finished the game on a 12-0 run.

Derick Jones scored 15 points to lead Palomar.

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