Men's Hoops End on a Good Note
During the final two games of the Santa Monica College men's basketball 2004-05 schedule, the Corsairs posted two satisfying wins to cap off a program hurt by injuries sidelining several key players for much of the season.
Spectators at SMC's win on Wednesday witnessed an exciting game against the taller Bakersfield College Renegades.
A little more than three weeks had past since the Corsairs traveled to Bakersfield and were defeated by the Renegades 69-65.
As a team that likes to play man-to-man, the Corsairs started the game with its players glued to their opponents.
But the ability of the Renegades to post down low for easy buckets and some early foul problems to his starters caused Head Coach Trevor Shickman to shift to a zone for most of the way.
That adjustment seemed to work as the Corsairs jumped to and held double-digit leads for most of the game with lightening-quick guard Jonathan Smith scoring 19 points as he spearheaded a balanced attack.
Especially impressive was SMC's tenacious defensive rebounding, which denied their opponents many second chance put-backs in spite of their height advantage.
Though the Renegades' leading scorer Mario Malave had 30 points, the Corsairs smothering defense made him work for everything.
With just seconds left in the first half, sophomore Efrem Lawrence, the Corsairs' leading scorer with 21 points, hit a three-point shot to put SMC up 44-26 at the break.
In the second half, the game stayed much the same with both teams trading baskets.
Swingman and former CIF Player of the Year Freshman Derrick Williams, who is suffering from strained knee ligaments, was effective at driving to the basket for a number of impressive hoops as he scored nine points.
Sophomore guard Mike Wood showed excellent court sense around and behind the basket as he too scored nine points.
With less than five minutes to go, the Renegades reduced the margin to nine points at 72-63.
Both teams raised the tempo and Bakersfield started to have more success grabbing offensive boards.
Additionally, the Corsairs continued to out-foul their opponents, which translated into more free throw chances for the surging Renegades.
Still, SMC held a 77-69 point lead at the two-minute mark. Bakersfield went into a full court press on every possession after that and the Corsairs struggled to get the ball up the court, turning over the ball a few times.
As the clock moved under the one-minute mark and the Corsairs leading 80-77, Smith had the ball and directed his teammates to spread the court.
Smith drove to the hole and was fouled.
But couldn't connect at the foul line and in the scramble for the rebound, Bakersfield lost the ball out of bounds as the game reached fever pitch.
SMC scored a bucket, but Renegade guard Tyler Monk responded with a three pointer and the score was 82-80.
Lawrence was fouled in the backcourt with less than eight seconds left.
Knocking down both free throw opportunities, Lawrence put the Corsairs up by a score of 84-80 late in the game.
With just seconds to go, Monk hit his second three point shot as the Corsairs held on for a dramatic 84-83 victory.
"It was a satisfying win," said Shickman. "Our players showed a lot of character."
Saturday's cross-town game against archrival West Los Angeles College had an equally enjoyable outcome as the Corsairs beat the Oilers for the second time this season with a score of 63-56.
The win was additionally gratifying as it eliminated the Oilers from playoff competition.
"It was a nice way to finish, winning three out of the last four games," said Shickman. "It was a season of what could have been."
The Corsairs finished with a 12-15 record, 3-9 in conference play.