The College of the Canyons men’s basketball team will head into Saturday’s Western State Conference opener at the Cougar Cage riding a five-game win streak and looking to get above .500 for the first time this season after picking up a pair of road wins last week.
It was a busy week of traveling for Canyons (10-10), as the Cougars first journeyed to El Camino College for a 90-77 road win on Wednesday, then made the trek to L.A. Harbor College to cap the road trip with an 85-79 victory.
COC coach Howard Fisher has now led his team to victories in six of the last seven games dating back to Dec. 16. Over that span, COC has scored an average of 84.7 points per game and limited opponents to 76.1 each night out.
With eight regular season games remaining, Canyons has already doubled its win total from a season ago. That momentum could prove to be a factor during conference play, with COC, Bakersfield College (13-8) and West L.A. College (11-6) all expected to vie for the WSC, South Division’s top spot.
The Cougars have received a slew of impressive individual performances during the current win streak, with a new player stepping into the spotlight seemingly every night. COC has had a different leading scorer in each of the last four games.
Canyons’ bench has also provided the team with a big boost. COC reserves have contributed an average of 22 points per game over the five-game streak. On two occasions the team’s leading scorer did not start the game.
Such was the case in the contest vs. L.A. Harbor, as sophomore guard Garrett Mike came off the bench to score 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting from behind the arc. Mike, who is averaging 10.9 points per game during the streak, also added three rebounds.
COC freshman guard Jacob Lilley continues to play at a high level with a final stat line of 17 points and 10 assists vs. L.A. Harbor. He has now scored 15 or more points in three of the last five games. The freshman’s 4.8 assists per game rank fifth in the conference behind the leading mark of 5.6.
Freshman guard Michael Kalu came up with 12 points, four rebounds and two assists vs. the Seahawks.
Kalu has been another driving factor in the team’s recent success, having scored double-digit point totals in all but two games this season. He currently leads the Cougars in scoring (17.8 points per game) and is shooting 47.1 percent from the field through the first 20 games. Those marks also rank Kalu sixth in the WSC in scoring.
As a team, Canyons shot a combined 50 percent from the field and 68 percent from three-point land.
COC will host L.A. Pierce College at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Cougar Cage.