Despite an early 20-point first half deficit, the Lancers men’s basketball team (16-5, 4-1) proved they could handle adversity with an 84-77 conference victory over El Camino College Compton Center on Wednesday.
The Lancers battled back to defeat the Tartars (7-12, 3-2) and remain atop the South Coast North Division.
“We seem to rise to the occasion in the second half of games,” Head Coach Michael Swanegan said.
The Tartars jumped out to a 41-21 lead with 2:33 left in the first half thanks to a 26-6 run. Wesly Harris hit three 3-pointers in the first half for 15 points. At the half the Lancers were able to cut the deficit to 14, 45-31.
“We’ve had more than a few times where we fell behind, but we have responded well to those challenges.” Swanegan said. “The North side of the SCC is a war right now and we got through that first round winning four. Right now, we’ve earned our first place spot.”
In the second half, the Lancers were able to contain Harris with their pressure defense, holding him to two second half points. Sophomore guard Jeffrey Dockett was impressive in the second half, sinking three 3-pointers, while standout forward Taj Spencer worked the inside with layups and short jumpers.
Freshman guard Adrian Miles and Dockett were instrumental down the stretch to help the Lancers record their fourth straight conference victory.
“AJ (Miles) continues to hit big shots for us,” Spencer said. “Our guards made some big plays towards the end and we never gave up.”
Miles recorded two timely steals and scored seven points in the final six minutes of play to help the Lancers seal the comeback victory. With 5:40 remaining in the game Miles tied the score at 65-65 on a big corner three that changed the momentum in the Lancers’ favor.
“We didn’t play as well as we should have in the first half, but it was all about effort, we wanted it more than they did.” Dockett said.
With 4:05 remaining in the game, the Lancers had completed the 20-point rally with a Spencer offensive rebound and slam that gave PCC a 70-69 lead. Spencer and Dockett combined for 34 of the Lancers 53 second half points. Dockett recorded 20 of his game-high 31 points in the second half.
Spencer recorded another double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 9-for-13 from the floor. Miles finished the game with 14 points, two assists and two critical steals.
“We knew we were supposed to win,” Dockett added. “In the second half we knocked down shots and played better defense. We played PCC Lancers ball.”
The Lancers also received important contributions from freshman guard Jevon Shields and sophomore forward Bryce Clifton. Shields was key for the Lancers on defense recording four of the team’s 14 steals to go along with a team-high eight assists and five rebounds.
Clifton contributed eight points and three steals off the bench. Freshman center Faruk Oyalade chipped in seven points and five rebounds, most of his production coming over the final seven minutes of the game. Freshman guard Jonathan Henderson added two points, four assists, and six rebounds.
The Lancers travel to play South Division rival El Camino College on Friday, Jan. 24. Tip-off is 5 p.m.