Men roll to win, women fall short in Saturday doubleheader

While the weather outside was gloomy and overcast, it was anything but for the Santa Monica College men's basketball team.

On the heels of a two game losing streak and facing a Bakersfield College team that had beaten them earlier in the season, the Corsairs controlled the pace and cruised to a comfortable 96-86 victory.

The Corsairs built an early double digit lead in the first half, and never looked back after that.

"We were better prepared for them [Bakersfield] this time around," said head coach Jerome Jenkins. "Our preparation paid off tonight."

A mini-rally by the Bakersfield Renegades late in the first half was quelled by the Corsair defense as well as timely shots by leading scorer David Nwaba and starting guard Madison Higgins.

With the Corsairs leading by 11 at halftime, Nwaba came out just as aggressively in the second half, relentlessly attacking the rim, and settling into a point forward role. He dished the ball to his open teammates and found them in transition as well, registering five assists in the second half alone. A standout all season, Nwaba is leading the team in scoring at 21.1 points per game, and shooting a whopping 57.5 percent from the field.

Adding to the onslaught was guard Keilan Horton, who scored 19 points in the second half alone as the Corsair lead ballooned to 80-62. Horton, another standout, is second on the team in scoring at 14.4 points per contest.

As the season winds down, and with key games approaching against the Western State South division leaders Citrus College and College of the Canyons, Jenkins is optimistic about his team's mindset.

"Our losing streak was against the two best teams [Citrus and Canyons] in the division," said Jenkins. "We're taking it one game at a time, and we'll be ready the second time around."

While the mood was upbeat for the men, the gloomy day was more appropriate for the SMC women's team. Playing immediately after the men also against Bakersfield, the Lady Corsairs struggled in the second half and allowed their early lead to slip away, falling to the Renegades 71-64.

Despite jumping out to an early 19-7 lead, the Lady Corsairs took their foot off the gas and allowed Bakersfield to take command of the game.

Freshman standout and second leading scorer Imani Holloway led the team with 15 points, but sloppy execution and poor free throw shooting eventually did them in.

"Throughout the season, we haven't been there mentally," said assistant coach Dika Firmansyah. "We show up for one half and can't play a complete game."

The Lady Corsairs are mired in a seven game losing streak.

"As a staff, we've tried everything in practice to try and change the mindset," said Firmansyah. "We'll get there."