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COC men's basketball: Not so clutch for Cougars

Late errors lead to third straight loss for COC

Posted: January 15, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 15, 2012 1:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons dominated the rebounding, made more shots and appeared in control of the game most of the way through.

The final score told a different story.

COC men’s basketball was plagued by sloppy offensive play in the final minutes, leading to a 74-68 loss to West Los Angeles College on Saturday at COC.

“It’s not a mental thing,” said Cougars forward and Canyon High graduate Wesley Bartole. “It’s just playing as a unit. I don’t know how we turn the ball over eight times in the last three or four minutes.”

It was the third straight loss for the Cougars, who dropped to 1-3 in Western State Conference South Division
After relinquishing a nine-point advantage in the second half, COC (10-9, 1-3) traded leads with West L.A. until Wildcats point guard Rodney Blackmon made a fastbreak layup to give his team a 70-68 lead with 50 seconds to play.

His tie-breaking layup came directly off a COC turnover.

On the ensuing possession, COC gave the ball up again on an errant pass, giving the Wildcats (5-11, 2-1) the lead and the basketball with 26 seconds on the clock.

A couple of free throws from Saion Udeh seconds later sealed it for West L.A.

Blackmon led all scorers with 32 points on 10-of-16 shooting which was made possible by easy layups in transition and a few key 3-pointers to keep his team in the game early on.

“(West L.A.) did a very good job today of running their offense and having patience,” said COC head coach Howard Fisher.

While the Wildcats relied on outside shooting for most of the game, the Cougars made their money in the paint by feeding it to reliable forwards Rafael Love and Bartole, who led the team with 22 points and added 10 rebounds.

Love finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

The two of them helped COC outrebound West L.A. 50-22 overall and 26-4 on the offensive end.

All the second-chance opportunities helped the Cougars turn a narrow 35-33 halftime lead into a 44-35 upper hand thanks to a 9-2 run through the first four minutes of the second half.

Each time COC had a chance to pull away though, the Wildcats came up with a couple of defensive stops and some key jump shots to stay within striking distance.

“We’re a small team so people expect us to come out and press,” said West L.A. head coach Ron McClurkin. “We never press (COC) because they’re too smart. We went with solid man-to-man and matchup zone.”

Although many of COC’s 17 turnovers were unforced, Fisher admitted that his players did struggle at times with the Wildcats’ defense.

“Their intensity on the perimeter and the zone is something we haven’t seen in a month,” Fisher said. “Most teams play man-to-man.”

The Cougars will have another chance to snap the losing skid with a home game coming on Wednesday against Santa Monica before heading on the road against for another two-game conference road trip.


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