COSTA MESA -- If the second half of Orange Empire Conference play goes anything like the first half, the Orange Coast College men's basketball team will continue to turn the heads of its opposition and the rest of California Community College basketball.
With yet another "how'd they do that" performance, the Pirates came through in the game's final seconds to top Copper Mountain, 66-64, on Wednesday night inside the Peterson to hold onto sole possession of first place in the OEC with six conference games left to go.
Kupaa Harrison, who finished with a game-high 21 points, took a fantastic feed from Lloyd Wright and scored with 1.6 seconds remaining to snap the tie and put the state's ninth-ranked Pirates (14-7, 5-1 in OEC) ahead for good.
Joshua Davis added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Coast, while Wright and Colin Pipkin each added 10. Wright, who struggled throughout the night, came through in the game's final minutes with big baskets and smart all-around play to guide Coast to its fifth win in a row and its 12th win over the last 14 contests.
For Copper Mountain (16-7, 3-3), Murshid Randle led the way with 15 points, but the OCC defense held the Fightin' Cacti to just 19-of-53 shooting and just 4-of-15 from 3-point range.
Coast overcame a cold start to the evening (10-of-38 shooting for the half) and trailed only by seven at 32-25 after the first 20 minutes.
After both teams battled hard and sometimes over the edge (two technical fouls for CMC, one for OCC), both teams played solid basketball over the second half. CMC grabbed its biggest lead of the game at 41-29 with 17 minutes left to go before OCC responded with a 15-1 run to grab its first lead of the game at 44-42.
The Pirates trailed, 60-57, with 2 minutes left before Wright came through with a clutch 3-pointer to even the score at 60. After a pair of Cacti free throws and a layup by Harrison kept the game tied at 62, Wright was fouled and sent to the free-throw line with 37 seconds remaining.
Despite being outscored by CMC 22-10 from the charity stripe, Wright nailed both attempts, putting Coast back in front, 64-62.
Randle responded for Copper Mountain with a pair of made FTs with 13 seconds left, but Coast had the ball and Wright knew what to do with it. The sophomore guard/forward rolled to the right and sent a no-look pass to Harrison down low and the former OCC volleyball player banked in the layup with under 2 seconds remaining.
CMC tried a pair of last-second connections, but Coast picked off both attempts to preserve the win.
Coast will return to the Peterson Gym on Friday night to open the second half of OEC play against Irvine Valley, beginning at 7 p.m. IVC topped the Pirates, 63-62, for their lone conference loss back on Jan. 3.