The Lancers’ men’s basketball team dropped another close home game Wednesday evening, losing 85-82 against East Los Angeles College. The tough defeat drops the Lancers to 11-14 on the season and likely ends the their chances of qualifying for the team’s second consecutive postseason appearance.
Once again, the final two minutes of regulation proved to be the Lancers’ nemesis, as PCC was unable to hold on to a six-point lead with 2:58 remaining in the second half.
“Turnovers killed us tonight,” head coach Michael Swanegan said. “We played like we couldn’t dribble the ball over half court. We gave this game away. We turned the ball over three times in one stretch.”
Despite a balanced offensive attack, the Lancers were unable to stay out of foul trouble and could not take care of the ball in the second half, committing 25 total turnovers on the night and allowing ELAC to send the game into overtime tied at 79.
“This game was a hard one to lose,” Swanegan said. “When you have games you’re supposed to win you have to win them. This was a game we needed to keep us in playoff contention. The kids played hard, don’t get me wrong they played hard out there but we just had too many turnovers at the wrong time in the game and it killed us.”
Five players scored in double figures for the Lancers, led by freshman guard DeJon Williams’ 17 points. Williams also added a game-high nine assists, but a costly entry pass late at the end of regulation allowed the Huskies to gain momentum heading into overtime.
“We have to make baskets and execute our plays down the stretch,” Willliams said. “We have to be smarter than our opponents. Our bounce passes have to be on point, chest passes and everything has to be on point.”
The second half was indicative of the Lancers’ season as they let the victory slip through their hands in the final minutes of the regulation.
“The kids played hard,” Swanegan echoed. “For 38 out of 40 minutes I thought we played one of the best games we played all year. Close games, like tonight, we have to be able to finish and we didn’t do that.”
Sophomore center Faruk Oyalade recorded one if his best games of his career with 16 points and a game-high 18 rebounds in the defeat. Freshman forward Donell Tuff was efficient on defense with six blocks to go along with 15 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Jonathan Henderson added 15 points, but was limited to only two in the second half, and freshman guard Keith Langston added 10 points and four rebounds before fouling out late in the game.
“We have to stick together as a team,” freshman guard Derrin Jenkins said. “We’re kind of on different pages sometimes at the end and we have to stay on the same page, rotate and talk on defense. We got away from talking at the end and that’s what killed us.”
The Lancers travel to play division rivals Mt. SAC next Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 5 p.m.