Men's basketball comes up short against Citrus

The Santa Monica College Corsairs men’s basketball team came up short in the opening game of Western State Conference play against the Citrus College Owls, Wednesday, dropping a nail-biter 69-65.

In a game that consisted of 10 lead changes, the Corsairs kept the Owls in the game by committing 12 fouls on defense in the first half alone and 22 on the night.

A poor shooting night didn't help either as SMC went 21-65 from the field shooting 3 percent. The blue and white also gave the Owls control of the boards, only pulling down 36 rebounds in the game.

Corsair freshman guard Derrien King tied up the game at the free throw line to send into the half tied at 33.

“We only gave up 33 points, it was tied up at halftime so I felt good. It basically 0-0 at half-time,” Corsair head coach Jerome Jenkins said.

The Corsairs went on a run in the early going of the second half and gained momentum. Freshman guard Kris Berry knocked down a corner three, giving the Corsairs a 53-47 lead, which caused the crowd to start cheering “Swaggy” (in reference to the Los Angeles Lakers Nick “Swaggy P” Young.)

It looked like the Corsairs were going to run away with this game, but then the Owls caught fire from downtown. Citrus hit the go ahead shot late in the game giving them a 66-64 lead.

“We started to take away the drive towards the middle, but hey give them credit they made big shots," Jenkins said.

With 16.7 seconds left Corsair freshman guard Brandon Baker drew a foul with a chance to tie the game at the line. SMC had a solid night at the line, going 19-25 for 76 percent, however Baker missed the first free throw, which would prove costly.

Despite the loss, Jenkins was optimistic in looking forward to Saturday's game against the College of the Canyons Cougars and the rest of WSC play.

“We have a brand new team this year and its money time," Jenkins said. "Right now we feel like we played a decent game. [It] wasn’t good enough to win but we will come back Saturday and see if we can get in this race.”

In order to reach the team's potential, Jenkins said that the Corsairs needed to embrace a team concept.

“We got to learn to play together a little bit more. Trust each other a little bit more. We’ve been in a lot of close games but we just haven’t been able to pull it out,” Jenkins said.

King finished the game with a team high 23 points on 7-16 shooting with 6 assists. Brandon Baker finished with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Kris Berry also added 8 points.

The Corsairs are now 5-8 overall, 0-1 in WSC play and have lost four games in a row.