Pirates find a way to ground Eagles in SoCal Regional playoff

Pirates find a way to ground Eagles in SoCal Regional playoff

COSTA MESA -- Just another ho-hum, snoozer inside the Peterson Gym on Friday night -- sarcastically speaking -- as the Orange Coast College men's basketball dug into its bag of tricks and pulled out another heart-stopping 84-81 win over visiting Mt. San Jacinto in the second round of the Southern California Regional Playoffs.

With the win -- OCC's 12th in a row and 19th in 21 games -- the sixth-seeded Pirates (21-7) will advance to the third round and will await their fate following Saturday's matchup between No. 3 Citrus and No. 14 Miramar. If Citrus wins, Coast will play at Citrus College on Saturday, March 3 at 7 p.m. If Miramar wins, the Pirates will return to the Peterson Gym and host the Jets on March 3, at 7 p.m.

OCC's "Big Three" of Joshua Davis, Kupaa Harrison and Lloyd Wright refused to let the Pirates' season come to an end against the 11th-seeded Eagles (14-16). Davis finished with 23 points, nine rebounds, Harrison tossed in 23 points to go along with five rebounds and seven assists and Wright tossed in 22 points to go along with four rebounds.

For the Eagles, David Thompson had 16 points and 10 rebounds, C.J. Hyder added 15 points and six rebounds and A.J. Walton added 15 points and five rebounds. MSJC's leading scorer, Davon Sanders (17.9 points per game), was held to 12 points and eight rebounds.

The Pirates' defense turned up the heat down the stretch and forced 24 Eagle turnovers in the game. 

In a game that featured 10 lead changes and nine ties, it was the type of game that suited the Pirates right from the opening whistle. In a year where just about every game came down to the wire, Friday night's matchup was no exception.

The game was tied at 36 after the first half before MSJC used a 13-3 run to start the second half to build a 49-39 advantage. It was 55-45, Eagles, with 12:09 remaining when the Pirates settled things down and found success on both sides of the ball. A 13-4 run by the Pirates over the next four minutes of play cut the deficit down to one at 59-58.

MSJC maintained a lead until a Wright drained a 3-pointer with 5:56 remaining to even the game at 65, sending the Pirate-heavy crowd into a frenzy.

A Hyder trey put the Eagles back out in front with 5:13 remaining, before the Pirates picked up a huge 3-pointer from reserve Colin Pipkin, who's clutch shot pushed the Pirates' advantage to 74-68 with 3:20 remaining.

Mt. San Jacinto would not quit and used five made free throws over the next minute of play to pull the Eagles to within a point, 74-73.

But a Davis layup and a big 3-pointer by Wright quickly pushed OCC advantage back up to six at 79-73 with 1:36 left in the game.

With 14 seconds left, Coast held an 80-78 lead when Davis was fouled and sent to the free-throw line. After struggling as a team throughout the night from the line (13-of-22 at that point), Davis calmly stepped up and buried both attempts to put OCC in front 82-78.

Sanders quickly drained a 3-pointer for the Eagles with seven seconds left to make it a one-point game and again, OCC was quickly fouled. 

This time, Wright stepped up and drained both attempts to give Coast an 84-81 advantage with four seconds left. MSJC's A.J. Walton had a decent look at a game-tying 3-pointer, but the shot rang off of the rim as the horn sounded.