COC's Jacob Lilley dribbles past Antelope Valley College defenders during a game at COC on Friday night. (Photo by Terri Thuente/for The Signal)
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College of the Canyons men’s basketball coach Howard Fisher took four steps from the sideline during a timeout with 8:56 left in the first half of the Cougars’ home game against Antelope Valley College, and let his team know he was displeased.

“Three times they’ve taken a 3-pointer right here,” fans in the stands could hear Fisher yell as he pointed at a spot on the left side of the three-point arc.

In the end, College of the Canyons (4-8) lived and died by the 3-pointer Friday night in their 88-66 loss to Antelope Valley College (6-4). AVC hit 13 of 26 attempts from 3-point range, compared to just 6 of 19 for COC.

COC's Chris Collins shoots for a score against Antelope Valley College defender's Osinachi Nwachukwu(CQ from roster), left, and Antone Warren on Friday night. (Photo by Terri Thuente/for The Signal)
COC’s Chris Collins shoots for a score against Antelope Valley College defender’s Osinachi Nwachukwu(CQ from roster), left, and Antone Warren on Friday night. (Photo by Terri Thuente/for The Signal)

Cory Dollarhide led the Marauders in scoring with 23 points, hitting 5 of 8 3-pointers. The stats don’t show that he seemed to knock everything down late in the game.

COC freshman guard Michael Kalu shot 4 of 7 from 3-point range and 6 of 12 overall. He led the Cougars with 22 points. Freshman forward Jason Hornosny also had 12 points and led COC with eight rebounds.

Not every Antelope Valley 3-pointer dropped, but, especially in the second half, the vast majority did. Conversely, when COC heaved a shot from three-point land, everything seemed to hit the pesky red rim.

“I don’t think we matched their effort when they made their run,” Fisher said. “It took a while until we got another wind as a group, and that’s why they got some open looks.”

Free throws hurt COC, too.

It made just 14 of 23 free throws.

“If you don’t shoot free throws well in your home gym, that’s not usually a good sign,” Fisher said.

COC opened the game in a feisty mood, picking apart the Marauders’ two-three zone defense and quickly trading baskets with Antelope Valley early in the quarter.

Antelope Valley took a 41-34 lead into halftime, but thanks to a Darie Pradia layup and Cory Dollarhide’s 3-pointers, the lead quickly ballooned to 58-43 with 14:27 left in the game.

COC fought throughout the second half, but Antelope Valley kept the Cougars at arms length most of the way.

Horosny said it felt like COC was a step or two late defending most of Antelope Valley three-point attempts.

COC's Jason Horonsy takes a shot against Antelope Valley College defenders on Friday night. (Photo by Terri Thuente/for The Signal)
COC’s Jason Horonsy takes a shot against Antelope Valley College defenders on Friday night. (Photo by Terri Thuente/for The Signal)

“Once they started hitting them, they gained a rhythm and were able to keep hitting,” Horosny said.

While COC can drive the ball to the basket well, Horosny said COC relies a lot on shooters. When shots don’t fall, it becomes hard for the Cougars to win.

“We definitely can shoot the ball,” he said, “and we know we can shoot the ball, but tonight it wasn’t falling.”

At 4-8 overall, Kalu said he feels good about the team’s shape if the Cougars can get a few more wins to put it in position to make he postseason.

“I feel like we have a lot of potential to be a really good team,” Kalu said. “We need to tighten things up offensively and defensively.”

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