PASADENA — A promising start for a potential upset fizzled away for the Pasadena City College men's basketball team behind turnovers and a broken press.
The host Lancers’ bid to knock off South Coast Conference archrival Mt. San Antonio College was only half-good as Pasadena was outscored by 14 points in the second half and fell to the state second-ranked Mounties, 76-61.
The contest appeared to slip away from the Lancers (5-10 overall, 1-1 in conference) early in the second half after Pasadena took the lead for the final time at 34-33 with 18:19 remaining after a three-pointer from sophomore guard Mike Swanegan.
From that point, the Mounties (15-1, 2-0) ran off an impressive 15-3 run fueled by eight points from sophomore guard Garret Nevels, who scored 17 of his game-high 21 in the second half.
Nevels capped the drive with a layup with 11:36 left as Mt. SAC went up, 48-37.
A three-pointer from sophomore guard Chris Smith (team-high 12 points) cut the Mounties advantage to 48-40 with 11:11 left and PCC remained around an eight-to-10-point deficit until a layup from Swanegan brought the Lancers within 51-44 with 8:14 remaining.
Yet, the charge was the closest the Lancers got in the second half, as the Mounties scored the next eight points, six of which were created by three turnovers from the Lancers, who finished with 19 overall.
The score continued to slip away from Pasadena, as the Lancers attempted a full-court press, only to see their defense broken frequently, including on another dunk from Nevels with 5:32 that put the Mounties ahead, 61-46.
“It was just too little too late at the end,” said Lancers guard Steve Shares, a Pasadena High product, who finished with five points. “Mt. SAC played well defensively in the second half and took us out of our game.”
Despite leading for 19 of 20 minutes in the first half, the Lancers trailed 29-28 at the break.
Pasadena’s biggest advantage came at 21-14 after a layup from sophomore guard Marquise Tolson with 6:41 remaining in the half.
The bucket capped a mini 10-5 spurt for Pasadena, in which it increased its lead from 11-8.
Mt. SAC responded to the deficit, though, with its own 11-2 run over nearly the next four minutes.
The drive was capped on a fall-away three-pointer hit by Mounties freshman guard Shadrach Earby with a second left on the shot clock and 2:36 remaining that gave the visitors a 25-23 lead, their first advantage since the opening bucket.
Pasadena quickly responded with a three-point play from Evan Brooks to retake a 26-25 advantage 13 seconds later.
With the score tied after a free throw from Mt. SAC, the Mounties took the lead for good in the half with a three-pointer from Christian Cooper (15 points) with 24.9 seconds that was followed by a rebound tip-in from Lancers sophomore Alex Tatum with one second left.