Frustrating end for sophomores
In the Corsairs final home game of the season,the Los Angeles Valley College Monarchs spoiled sophomore night with a thrilling overtime win, 77-75.
After a brief ceremony recognizing the sophomores before tipoff, Santa Monica College started the game with staunch team defense and intense play leading to a 14 point lead in the early going.
However that intensity faded into halftime as the Corsairs squandered their lead and ended the half down 39-38.
Bolstering the Monarch's efforts was a clutch three-pointer by freshman guard Andrew Estes with two minuets left in the first half capping off the Monarch's impressive run.
However, the Monarchs comeback was aided by sloppy team play down the stretch by the Corsairs. Sophomore guard Adam Griffin missed all three of his free throws after being fouled behind the arc, leading to a 33 percent average from the line.
The Corsairs were also without team leaders Keilan Horton and Madison Higgins.
Horton, who leads the Western State South Conference in scoring, has been out the last third of the season with a back injury. Higgins, who is top five in four different statistical categories including points per game and field goal percentage, was out with an injury sustained in the game prior.
“In the locker room at halftime we talked about defense and stopping them from getting easy shots,” sophomore guard Will Taylor said after the game. “We went down because we were giving up easy shots and missing our free throws.”
Clearly energized out of the break, the Corsairs briefly pulled ahead 62-58 with nine minutes to go in the game.
The Monarchs, who were determined to play the role of spoiler, tied the game at 62 with seven minutes left and refused to hand the lead over.
Both teams matched each other's defensive intensity step for step and found themselves tied at 69 with one minute left in the game.
After an impressive defensive stand secured the Corsairs the final shot, they could not connect on three consecutive opportunities leading to a decisive overtime period.
In the end, a poor shooting performance in overtime felled the Corsair’s chance at victory.
As improbable it may have seemed, the Corsairs had one final shot to steal victory away from the Monarchs with less than a second to go in overtime.
As Griffin received the inbound pass at half-court, he turned and fired a high-arching prayer that just missed the rim, securing the Monarchs nail-bitting win.
The loss is the sixth time this season the Corsairs have lost by less than four points.
For head coach Jerome Jenkins this season has been an up and down struggle.
“We just can’t close anyone out. It’s the story of our life right now, we can’t close anybody out,” Jenkins said.
The loss dropped the Corsairs to 13-12 overall and 2-9 in conference play, mathematically eliminating them from playoff contention.
Despite the disappointing season, Jenkins does have high hopes for his departing players.
"I'm going to miss those guys," said Jenkins. "A couple of them will get scholarships so you'll be hearing about them."