Originally written for publishing on February 20, 2013.
The men’s basketball team was able to drill a game winning basket as time expired to give them the 73-72 victory over the visiting Irvine Valley Lasers this past Wednesday night.
The Hornets were trying to even their record in a battle of a game against the Lasers (14-11, 6-5 in OEC). With twelve lead changes and six ties, this game came down to the last possession.
The Hornets donned pink warm-ups and pink laces to bring awareness for Coaches Against Cancer.
The Hornets (12-13, 4-6 in OEC) started out slow in the beginning of the first half and were on the bad end of an 8-0 within the first five minutes. The Lasers energy was quickly thwarted by the presence of Fullerton forward Khalfani Williams who got an easy bucket in the post. Williams finished with eight points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks.
The energy of Fullerton on the court was matched by the energy from the bench, who put up 34 of the 73 points tonight. The Hornets were able to go into halftime with some momentum due to a diving steal by Amin Sahwani and a monstrous two handed slam by Williams.
Fullerton started the second half with ferocious defense, causing IVC to commit three quick turnovers, including a shot clock violation. Hornets’ forward Chris Lewis had four consecutive baskets, finishing with 15 points and five boards.
With ten minutes remaining in the second half, IVC went on another 8-0 run that put the Lasers ahead by six. But a timely steal by the Hornets’ Julian Caldwell, followed by a Tyler Payne three-pointer, put Fullerton back within three.
A diving save in the final two minutes by Williams, who jumped over the coaches of his own bench, ignited the stands. They were the loudest of the year Wednesday night chanting, “I believe that we will win!”
After returning from a time out, IVC was forced to throw the ball away due to the defense by the Hornets. Fullerton made the most of its forced turnover and Julian Caldwell went coast-to-coast with a one-handed tomahawk jam through traffic, cutting the deficit to one point.
“With everything on the line tonight, we just brought the energy and played hard,” said Caldwell.
With a defensive stop and sixteen seconds left, the Hornets called a timeout to discuss their plan of action.
The inbound pass went to Julian Caldwell. Caldwell made two quick moves to the basket to split the defense but with 3 seconds left the ball just rolled around the rim and fell off to the left.
Guard Tyler Payne boxed out to get the offensive rebound and put back what ended up being the game winner.
“I’m so proud of these guys. The [Hornets] played their butts off,” said Hornet Head Coach Andre Smith. “The playoffs are still a possibility.”
“We watched a lot of film from out last meeting and noticed that they didn’t box out. So we were ready for their mistakes,” Payne said about the game winning put back.
The Hornets now hit the road to play Orange Coast College this Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.