By Wes McCurtis
CYPRESS, CA – The Cypress College men's basketball team (10-10, 2-3 OEC) lost a heartbreaker to the Riverside College Tigers (16-6, 3-2 OEC) at home on Friday night, 74-77.
Riverside's Andy Cleaves finished with a game-high 30 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Cleaves went a perfect 9-for-9 at the foul line and grabbed a team-high 7 rebounds.
The Chargers came out sluggish, as they found themselves trailing 11-0 to start the game. It took nearly 7 minutes before Cypress scored their first points of the night on a Williams layup. After trailing by as many as 13, the Chargers slowly chipped away at the lead and found themselves down 32-40 at halftime.
Cypress was on the attack in the second half, making it a 1-point game at the 8 minute mark. The Chargers' second half comeback was led by Williams and Palmer's ability to attack the rim and finish or convert at the foul line. Palmer scored all 12 of his points in the second half as Cypress managed to shoot 53.8% from the floor in the half, while holding the Tigers to just 37% shooting.
Trailing 69-70, Williams converted a runner in the lane to give the Chargers their first lead of the game with 1:38 remaining. However, the lead was short lived as Cleaves was fouled by Williams on the next possession. Cleaves hit both free throws to give the Tigers a 72-71 lead with just under a minute to go. With the game on the line and the shot clock running down, the Chargers turned to freshman guard Johnny Mims. Mims knocked down a long triple from the left wing to give the Chargers 74-72 lead with 30 seconds left. With momentum and the home crowd on their side, the Chargers needed one stop to put the game away. The Tigers quickly inbounded the ball after the made basket and Brae Ivey pushed it up the floor. Ivey drove to the rim and found Andre Wilson wide open for a kick-out corner three to give the Tigers a 75-74 lead. The Chargers were unable to capitalize on their final possession and the comeback fell short as Riverside went on to win, 74-77.
Men's Basketball will return to action with back-to-back home games this week, beginning with Santa Ana on Wednesday at 7 p.m. followed by district rival Fullerton on Friday at 5 p.m.
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