Men's Hoops Push State No. 5 ELAC To Brink, But Lose In OT

Lancer Khristion Courseault shoots the jumper during PCC's tough OT loss to East Los Angeles Friday night, photo by Richard Quinton.
Lancer Khristion Courseault shoots the jumper during PCC's tough OT loss to East Los Angeles Friday night, photo by Richard Quinton.

The unranked Pasadena City College men's basketball team did all it could, but in the end missed free throws prevented the Lancers from an upset as state No. 5-ranked East Los Angeles edged the Lancers, 69-68, in overtime Friday night. The South Coast Conference North Division game was played at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.

PCC dropped to 13-7, 1-1 in conference and lost for the first time in OT this season, now 4-1. The Lancers have played close games for much of the season, sporting a 7-4 record in games decided by five or fewer points. It was also the second straight 1-point, overtime decision after they had beaten Rio Hondo in the SCC opener on Wednesday.  

ELAC twice overcame late Pasadena leads in the second half and OT to move to 17-3 and 2-0 in the division. PCC rallied from a 9-point deficit in the first half to cut it to 39-38 by halftime. With 1:20 left, the Lancers pulled ahead 64-60 on an alley-oop dunk by Ivan Egbunike on a toss by Khristion Courseault. ELAC eventually tied it at 65-65 on a layup by Solomon Hunt with 17 seconds remaining. 

With 3.8 seconds left, PCC's Chris Odionu missed two free throws and an offensive rebound follow at the buzzer, sending the game to the extra 5-minute period. In the low-scoring OT, the Lancers battled despite losing top post players Chris Blount, Jordan Simpson and Egbunike, who each fouled out. Pasadena took a 67-66 lead on reserve Deandro Worrell's layup with 2:35 to go in the OT.

With 1:23 remaining, ELAC's Babacar Thiombane netted a hook shot for a 68-67 Huskies advantage. Down by two, 69-67, PCC still had a chance to tie it when Courseault was fouled with 35 seconds on the board. The freshman point guard, the only player on either team to play all 45 minutes, made the first free throw but missed the second attempt. The Lancers never got another opportunity as the Huskies prevailed.

In defeat, Courseault was brilliant overall, scoring a game-high 24 points (including four 3-pointers) and leading the team in rebounds with nine. His tough defense kept a couple of ELAC guards from getting open for 3-point attempts. Another tough defender was Giovonni Jackson, who had 11 points in 43 minutes of action as the two were keys in keeping the game close througout. Blount had 14 points and five rebounds while Odionu tallied eight points, seven boards, and a team-high four assists. Simpson, who was limited to two points due to his foul trouble, blocked five shots. Egbunike scored five points with five rebounds off the bench. 

East LA was paced by Hunt, who totaled 14 points and 14 rebounds. Thiombane also had a double-double on 12 points and 10 boards. 

PCC next hosts state No. 13-ranked LA Trade Tech on Wednesday, Jan. 30 in a 5 p.m. tip-off at the HP Gym.