Despite erasing two double-digit deficits and forcing overtime, College of the Canyons men’s basketball fell to the visiting Glendale Vaqueros on Saturday.
Glendale had to go to overtime to win its first Western State Conference South game of the year but snapped its seven-game losing streak with the 71-70 win.
The Vaqueros (7-13, 1-5) were led by freshman Gabino Ramirez, who poured in a game-high 20 points while adding six rebounds and two assists.
The Cougars (10-10, 1-5) struggled to shoot from the floor, behind the arc and at the free throw line but a dominating performance of offensive rebounding the ball saved the team. Canyons outrebounded Glendale, 44-42, with 21 boards off the offensive glass.
“We had been out-rebounded in the month of January,” said COC coach Howard Fisher. “We were 1-4 and we hadn’t out-rebounded anybody so we won the rebounding battle today, which was great. But when you shoot what, four of 12 from the free throw in the first half and two of 17 and finish 53% from the free throw line, you’re not going to win many games at any level. So that was a little disappointing.”
The game began tight before the Vaqueros pulled away on a 13-1 run. COC went nearly seven minutes without a field goal, allowing Glendale to build an early lead.
Canyons would narrow the gap and a 3-ball from point guard Dillon Barrientos brought COC within four points going into halftime.
Barrientos had a solid game with 14 points, three rebounds and three steals.
Glendale again swung the momentum in its favor and rode an 11-1 run early in the second half. The Cougars kept fighting and quickly made up for the deficit.
Canyons once again took the lead late in the game. COC sophomore Andrew Henderson came down with an offensive rebound and found center Jonah El-Farra, who was fouled but still rattled the rim for the game-tying dunk.
Henderson led the Cougars with 18 points, 11 rebounds and three assists.
El-Farra, who finished his night with 14 points and 11 rebounds, knocked down the free throw to finally retake the lead at 56-55.
Glendale fought back and retook the lead but, down one with a little time left, the Cougars had a play set up. Canyons would falter on the inbound pass and couldn’t get the ball in play.
COC was forced to play the foul game and now found itself down three with five seconds left.
Canyons inbounded and moved the ball quickly. Henderson had the rock and a decent look but dished to a wide-open Jimmy Galgano, the team’s best 3-point shooter. Galgano drained the 3 as time expired to tie the score 61-61, firing up the Cougar bench.
“They competed,” Fisher said. “We made some big shots down the stretch. We took the lead and then didn’t seal it in regulation. We made a big shot to go to a back-and-forth overtime. We just couldn’t get a stop or a rebound when we needed it.”
Both teams exchanged scoring blows in the extra period. Henderson hit his last shot of the night to take a 70-69 lead with just seconds left. The Cougars had all the momentum and followed up the play with a defensive stand, forcing a tough Glendale shot and miss. However, Vaquero forward Jarred Jones snagged the rebound and scored the putback bucket to win the game.
The Cougars are in a bit of a slump now, picking up their fifth loss in five games. The team has been right there in its conference games but just hasn’t been able to close out every game to secure more victories.
COC will play one more game before entering the second round of WSC play. Canyons will look to flip its season on Wednesday at 5 p.m. when the team heads to Santa Monica.