By Robert Barrett
The ELAC men’s basketball game on Friday was a tale of two halves, with the team coming up short at Mt. San Antonio College.
ELAC started the game as an underdog, not only because of the size advantage that Mt. SAC had but because of an illness that was hindering some key ELAC players.
The men started the game looking rattled. They made many turnovers, and overall, the team looked like they were rushing their offense and coming up a step slow on defense.
“They sped us up. We did not do a good job of keeping our poise,” said ELAC head coach Rob Rivera.
Mt. SAC used their size to dominate the paint for the first half, grabbing offensive rebounds and owning the paint.
“They imposed themselves on us. We did not do a good job of keeping them off the offensive glass,” said Rivera
Despite giving away much size to Mt. SAC, ELAC used their speed and accurate three-point shooting to keep it close in the first half.
Freshman Deon Geary used his quickness to get into the paint and draw fouls, which he then converted at the free-throw line.
ELAC guards Michael Cardenas and Alex Mendiola kept the lane open with accurate outside shooting. With a little over two minutes remaining in the first half, Cardenas hit a transition three-pointer to bring ELAC within six points.
At this point, all the momentum was with ELAC, but a turnover led to a Mt. SAC three-pointer, and an offensive rebound led to an easy bucket. Mt. SAC stole the momentum before halftime with a 7-2 run.
In the first half, Mt. SAC’s full court trap press forced a lot of turnovers, but at the start of the second half, ELAC easily broke the press and made it a game again.
ELAC was able to stay in the game with defense which was more aggressive with Huskies stripping the basketball, getting steals and communicating well, which caused a low scoring half for Mt. SAC.
ELAC’s offensive style was similar to the first half, with the main difference coming in the paint. All the fouls that were being called in the first half were no longer being called in the second half, and as a result, ELAC did not get to the foul line.
“I felt we were being aggressive getting to the basket, and I didn’t feel like they rewarded us, but it’s part of the game,” said Rivera.
The second half became a block party for Mt. SAC, with their size closing off the paint, and when a quick Husky guard did get into the lane, their shots were often blocked by six foot, eight inch sophomore Kaimyn Pruitt.
ELAC did make it to the free throw line towards the middle of the second half but missed a lot of free throw opportunities.
In the middle of the second half, Mt. SAC seemed like it was going to pull away and blow out ELAC, but the Huskies fought back and made the final few minutes very interesting.
After a couple made three-point shots by ELAC and some turnovers by Mt. SAC, the momentum had once again switched in favor of ELAC, but there was not enough time for the potential comeback. ELAC would lose the game 76-66
The team will take time to get healthy and learn from this game as they prepare for their final home game of the season against Pasadena City College. This final home game will also be the Coaches vs. Cancer game, which helps raise money for the fight against cancer.