Mt. SAC Defuses Men's Hoops' Strong Start, 76-61
Despite slick defense that highlighted a 21-14 advantage in the game's first 14 minutes, the Pasadena City College men's basketball team couldn't sustain the high level of play as state No. 2-ranked Mt. San Antonio College handed the Lancers a 76-61, South Coast Conference defeat Friday at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.
PCC fell to 5-10 and 1-1 in conference while the Southern California's highest ranked Mounties won their 14th consecutive game to improve to 15-1 and 2-0.
The Lancers initially slowed down Mt. SAC's fast-paced offense, forcing the Mounties into several turnovers and blocking five shots, then taking their time to develop plays on the other side of the court. The defensive-minded strategy worked well with PCC building its biggest lead, 21-14, on a Marquise Tolson layup. The teams traded six leads before Mt. SAC went into halftime ahead 29-28.
In the second half, the Mounties grabbed complete control thanks to the play of All-SCC forward Garret Nevels, who would make his first seven shots from the floor in the period. Nevels finished by scoring 17 of his game-high 21 points in the final 20 minutes and adding seven rebounds and six steals.
PCC fell behind by 11 points, but cut it to seven at 51-44 with 8:25 left on a layup by Mike Swanegan. Nevels responded with a 3-pointer after a PCC timeout and Mt. SAC kept a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
Swanegan overcame a bizarre start of the SCC season slump to score all eight of his points in the second half while adding four rebounds and four assists. The sophomore guard, who was averaging 19 points in the pre-conference, did not score in the team's win over LA Southwest on Jan. 9, then was scoreless in the first half v. Mt. SAC. In all, he missed 12 straight shots over the two games before sinking two 3-pointers in the second half.
After both scorching the nets for a combined 55 points v. Southwest, point guard Jeffrey Dockett and shooting guard Evan Brooks were limited by Mt. SAC. Dockett scored 11 points with five assists and three steals while Brooks was just 3-for-12 from the floor for seven points. The two players combined for just one basket (by Dockett) in the second half.
Two Lancers who did have better than average outings were sophomore reserve point guard Chris Smith, an All-SCC Second Team selection last year, and starting sophomore forward Alec Tatum. Smith led PCC with 12 points, a surprising team-high eight rebounds, and three steals. Tatum was a force on defense, blocking six shots (team had 10) along with nine points and seven rebounds.
The Lancers continued a frustrating season in which they have not won two straight games (0-5 following losses).
PCC next plays at Los Angeles Trade Tech College on Wednesday, Jan. 16 in a 6 p.m. conference tip-off.
MEN'S CAGER NOTES: PCC added former Mt. San Antonio head coach Criss Freeman to the team's assistant coaching staff in a volunteer role joining other former Mt. SAC coaches in head coach Michael Swanegan and assistant Jesse Ellis. Hosie Ward and TJ. Lucero, both who did not coach at Mt. SAC, also continue their roles as assistants in their second seasons at PCC. Freeman was the SCC North Division Coach of the Year last season when he directed the Mounties to the conference title. Freeman, an interim head coach, was not retained as Mt. SAC hired current head coach Clark Maloney to take its program this season . .Mt. SAC won their eighth straight game v. the Lancers dating back to the 2008-2009 season when PCC twice downed the Mounties. . .One area the Lancers are doing well in is team shooting. The team is making 45.7 percent of its shots and have five players that are above 50 percent from the field. At the line, the team is sinking shots at a 70.2 percent clip.
[Photo--Lancer Marquise Tolson sends up a shot in the key during PCC's loss to Mt. San Antonio Friday at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium, image by Richard Quinton, sports information photographer.]