In a game with Orange Empire Conference title implications, the Hornets lost on the road against Orange Coast College 83-74 in overtime.
With the Pirates victory clinching them the OEC title for the 2017-18 season, the Hornets are locked into second place in the conference standings with one game left to play before the CCCAA playoffs.
“I’m proud of my guys’ effort. I wish we would have played a little smarter, a little better, but it is what it is,” head coach Perry Webster stated.
The OEC match up began with the Hornets taking advantage of OCC’s offensive mistakes. Fullerton was able to force turnovers and score off of the Pirates’ mistakes building towards an early 12-4 lead.
“We capitalized off their mistakes; got some easy layups and it helped us… so it kept us in the game,” said Jason Richardson, the team’s scoring leader with 26 points.
After building themselves a lead early in the first half, OCC managed to erase their deficit and eventually go ahead late in the first half.
In the final minute of the first half, a 3-pointer from Fullerton’s sophomore guard Dezmond Rowen followed by a free throw made by OCC’s sophomore guard Robert Nixon kept the teams tied 28-28 at halftime.
“Our job was to capitalize off of their mistakes as well as they were going to capitalize off of ours, so that’s what we did. We capitalized off their mistakes and got some easy layups… it kept us in the game,” added Richardson.
Coming back from the break, Orange Coast kept their first half momentum rolling as they tried to pull away from Fullerton. The Pirates maintained the lead for the majority of the second half, but were only able to distance themselves by 9 points.
As Fullerton stuck around, a late game comeback led by Richardson’s 17 second half points rallied his team to force overtime with the game’s score at 65-65.
Playing in their first overtime game all season, Fullerton came out flat and wasn’t able to ride their late game momentum that was built during regulation time. As OCC was able to convert on second chance scoring opportunities, the Hornets failed to match those points.
“There were second chance opportunities on both sides. They got theirs and got eight second chance points late on offensive rebounds. Our offensive rebounds we got, we didn’t put in,” Webster said.
The conference season for the Hornets wraps up on Tuesday at home against Santiago Canyon College.
“We [have] got to put this game behind us and work hard in practice, listen to what coach has to tell us and we’ll be able to win and succeed on Tuesday,” freshman forward Vaj Rice said.
With the playoffs on the horizon, Fullerton is also focused on finishing their season strong.
“We feel like we still can make a run in the playoffs,” Webster said. “And for us it’s just about coming out and playing well Tuesday, regrouping and getting ourselves ready to go on a high note moving forward into the playoffs.”