College of the Canyons found itself down by double digits in the second half Wednesday night against West Los Angeles College, with a loss all but putting the Cougars out of contention for a conference title.
But they willed themselves back from an 11-point deficit to pull off a 73-68 win over West LA at COC.
“It helps them understand that we can get it done and win close ones like this,” said Canyons coach Howard Fisher. “We’ve got two (conference) wins at home and two losses on the road. Every game is going to be difficult, we’ve talked about that.”
Santa Clarita Christian alum Philip Webb tied the game at 59-59 after collecting an offensive rebound and finishing with a lay-in. Webb led COC (11-12, 2-2 Western State Conference, National Division) with 11 rebounds and was tied for second with 10 points.
A few possessions later, Robert Moss gave the Cougars the lead for good with a 3-pointer, putting them up 62-60 with 4:45 to play.
“I just had confidence in my teammates that they could find me in that spot,” Moss said.
The last four minutes of the contest were played mostly from the free-throw line as the teams combined for 59 fouls throughout. Jacob Lilley helped close out the contest with a 12 of 14 mark from the line and led Canyons with 19 points while also grabbing seven rebounds.
“We had to have this one,” Lilley said. “Our backs are against the wall but we’ve got to take it one game at a time.”
Moss finished with six points and Michael Kalu matched Webb with 10 points.
The Cougars were coming off a loss to Bakersfield College on Saturday. Their two conference losses have come by an average of five points.
“We just started placing trust in each other in the second half and things fell into place,” Moss said. “We have to stress the little things to keep us in it.”
West LA (15-9, 2-2) led 33-29 at the half as COC shot 50 percent from the free-throw line compared to 63.6 percent in the second half.
“We had to clean some things up from that first half,” Fisher said. “ … We had some guys step up in big spots.”
Bakersfield remains atop the conference standings at 3-1, with Canyons, LA Pierce and West LA tied for second place at 2-2.
Canyons will have its bye Saturday before resuming play next Wednesday at home against LA Pierce, which beat the Cougars 100-96 to open conference play back on Jan. 20.