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Re-start and stop

After a short break, COC starts WSC play with a loss

Posted: January 7, 2009 10:41 p.m.
Updated: January 8, 2009 4:30 a.m.

The College of the Canyons' Justin Smith scored a game high 25 points, but the sophomore forward's effort weren't enough as the Cougars lost 92-84 to Citrus College (17-3, 1-0) on Wednesday night at College of the Canyons in the Western State Conference opener.

"I was just trying to get us the victory," Smith said. "We just started to give up. We could have beaten them. Coach (Howard Fisher) told us in the locker room we have to keep our composure. We can play with them."

But down the stretch, the Cougars didn't keep up with the Owls and in the end it was to their detriment.

It was the Cougars' first contest back after finishing in second place in the their own Cougar Classic Tournament on Dec. 29

A back-and-forth battle ensued from the start Wednesday.

The Cougars (8-12, 0-1) had the upper hand for the majority of the first half.

Then Citrus got a boost of momentum in the closing minutes of the first half.

The Owls' bench did the most damage as Terance Reaves made five 3-pointers before halftime that put Citrus ahead 49-47 at halftime.

Reaves finished the contest with a team-high 22 points.

"We just have a deep team and (Reaves) was waiting his turn and tonight was his turn," said Citrus head coach Rick Croy.

Croy's bench outscored COC 37-15 in the first half.

The Owls' second team would continue to make noise in the second half, outscoring COC 23-0.

Citrus went ahead by as much as five, taking a 66-61 advantage midway through the second half.

But COC was quick to close the gap after a 3-pointer from Terrez Scott tied the game at 68-68.

What looked to be a comeback quickly subsided.

Reaves hit two back-to-back 3-pointers to stifle the Cougars and Citrus pulled ahead late.

The Owls blew the door open after going on a scoring run with the largest lead of the game at 89-80 with less than a minute left in the game.

"(COC) was scoring the ball well and they are really, really good offensively," Croy said. "We just tried to stay the course and we finally got a few plays in the transition."

Scott, who added 15 points, and Smith fought to bring their team back but their efforts came up short. The Owls' lead proved insurmountable.
"I don't think it was lack of confidence," Scott said. "We just had poor execution and we rushed a little bit.

That was the only problem. We played right with them. We just couldn't pull it out in the end."

COC will travel to Bakersfield on Saturday.


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