Despite a valiant second half comeback, the Lancers men’s basketball team was unable to pull off the upset, losing to the state’s No. 10 ranked Long Beach Vikings, 74-65, Wednesday evening at the Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.
The nine-point defeat was indicative of the Lancers’ season as PCC played well in spurts, but could not get the much needed upset over the South Coast South division leaders.
“We just have to keep our composure,” head coach Michael Swanegan said. “The last five minutes of the game has been our downfall, that’s how we’ve lost probably eight out of our 11 games. We have a young group who’s getting better at handling their composure and we just have to keep it going and keep working on finishing games until we get it right.”
Unlike the Lancers’ two previous victories, their defensive pressure didn’t make an appearance until the second half, allowing the Vikings to set up their offense and get open shots for their guards.
Once again the Lancers were unable to capitalize in the post despite a noticeable height advantage. Although the Vikings only shot 40 percent (32-80), the Lancers were outrebounded, 57-48, allowing 19 offensive rebounds and numerous second chance points and opportunities.
“We just have to stay focused,” freshman guard Dejon Williams said. “We have to maintain our composure and trust our coaches.”
Sophomore center Faruk Oyalade was the lone bright spot in the post for the Lancers. The 6-foot-7 letterman recorded a season-high 19 rebounds and 10 points, before being sattled in the second half because of foul trouble.
“Our guys just have to want it more,” Swanegan said. “We played well in spurts and part of the second half, but we’ve yet to play a complete game. It’s not that we’re young, we were in the game and hand opportunities in the second half but we turned the ball over too many times down the stretch.”
Turnovers have hindered the Lancers all season and Wednesday evening was no different. Despite forcing the Vikings into multiple second half turnovers, 17 total, the combination of turnovers, 20, and poor shooting proved costly for the Lancers. PCC made just 32 percent of its field goal attempts (23 of 72), and shot a dismal 2-for-18 from beyond the 3-point arc.
“We have to improve on our overall intensity,” freshman forward Donell Tuff said. “The turnovers killed us in the second half because we were rushing so we just have to take our time with the ball.”
In the second half the Lancers were down by as many as 15 points with eight minutes remaining, but rallied back to cut the lead to single digits thanks to their full-court pressure defense. The Lancers second half rally began at the 7:15 mark with two consecutive blocks by Tuff which sparked a 14-6 Lancers rally. PCC cut the margin to five, 69-64, on a timely dunk by freshman guard Keith Langston, but that basket with 1:08 left was the team’s last field goal.
Williams led the Lancers with a game-high 23 points and Langston added 11 points and six rebounds.
The Lancers resume South Coast Conference North Division play Friday, Feb. 6 when they host El Camino College-Compton Center at 5 p.m. PCC is 2-2 and in a 3-way tie for second place behind Mt. San Antonio.