Pirates open conference play with road win over Lasers

Pirates open conference play with road win over Lasers

IRVINE -- The Orange Coast College men's basketball team opened up Orange Empire Conference play with a 69-67 road victory over host Irvine Valley College on Wednesday night.

After trailing 39-34 at the half, the Pirates (3-14, 1-0 in OEC) turned up the jets and outscored the Lasers (3-14, 0-1) 35-28 in the second half to snap a nine-game losing skid.

Coast led by nine with 1:42 remaining but a late 3-point barrage by the Lasers made things interesting in the final seconds. But the Pirates, who have had four losses by four points or less over their last five contests, closed out the game to preserve the victory.

Jonathan Ileleji led OCC with 17 points and three steals, while Malik Skillern added 14 points. Leonard Stallings dished out a team-best seven assists to go along with seven points, while forward Jonathan Yardley pulled down a team-best nine rebounds.

Off the bench, Coast picked up valuable contributions from Nate Harding (11 points), Michael Estrada (eight points, four rebounds, three assists) and J.J. Chapple (five points).

For the Lasers, Isaiah Mahmud led the way with 20 points, while Geoff Salas added 15.

Coast will return to action on Friday at Santa Ana College, beginning at 5 p.m. OCC's next home game will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 23 against Saddleback, also at 5 p.m.