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COC men's basketball: Cougars get valuable win

Young COC gains experience with close victory

Posted: November 23, 2010 9:47 p.m.
Updated: November 24, 2010 4:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons guard D.J. Smith (5) shoots a layup against Grossmont College’s Reynard Rice (12) as Cougar Wesley Bartole looks on Tuesday at COC.

 

As a young team, College of the Canyons men’s basketball needs as much experience in close games as possible.

The Cougars added another close win to the resume Tuesday night against Grossmont College, a 77-70 victory at COC.

“We’re growing as a team right now,” said COC head coach Howard Fisher. “We have so many new players and there are so many different styles of play and the game is a little faster at this level.”

It was the sixth time in seven games this season that COC (4-3) played a game that was decided by 10 points or less, though the game didn’t seem to be headed that direction in the first half.

The Cougars used accurate jump-shooting and strong rebounding to build an early lead, which was as high as 18 points when Cameron Blocker’s pair of free throws put the score at 39-21 at the 2:42 mark.

COC shooters often had wide open looks from around the perimeter, but forwards Rafael Love and Wesley Bartole were able to score second-chance points when the shots didn’t fall.

Grossmont (0-4) trailed 42-28 at halftime and was losing the rebounding battle 23-11.

The Griffins came out with a sense of urgency in the second half and used pressure defense to force the Cougars to turn the ball over.

“They came out and really pressed us in those first couple minutes of the half, but we were able to settle down and get it done,” said Cougars point guard Brad Wyche.

Grossmont rallied to cut the lead to 61-58 with a little more than six minutes left, but that was as close as it got.

“They were a little more aggressive and we came out a little flat in the second half,” Fisher said.

The Cougars tried to pull away by driving to the basket and getting to the free-throw line, but Grossmont’s full-court defense throughout the half continued to pay off.

“We talked at halftime about not being content, continuing to fight for rebounds,” Fisher said. “We’re just trying to be consistent.”

Wyche was clutch down the stretch, knocking down a back-breaking 3-pointer on the next possession to put COC up seven points with less than two minutes left.

“I feel really comfortable when I get good screens and I just know I’m able to make those shots,” Wyche said.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Cougars, who don’t play another home game until Dec. 27 in the Cougar Holiday Classic.

COC takes the court next on Dec. 3 in the Rancho Vista Classic.

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