By Carlos Alvarez
The East Los Angeles College men’s basketball team led 7-4 five minutes into the game. From that point on, the State’s No. 1-ranked team Mt. San Antonio College dominated with a 87-67 victory Jan. 7.
Riding a three-game losing the streak, ELAC was out rebounded, out hustled and out worked during the teams’ South Coast Conference North Division opener.
“We just (have to) forget about this game and play harder on Friday. We just (have to) play harder,” ELAC Head Coach John Mosley said.
ELAC 8-7 overall, 0-1 in the SCC North Division, will play its conference home opener Jan. 9. at 7 p.m. against Pasadena City College (6-9 overall, 0-1 in SCC play).
The Huskies were unable to stop the Mounties’ tandem force of forwards Stephaun Branch and Shannon Fowler.
“Getting the ball inside was part of our game plan,” Mt. SAC Head Coach Clark Maloney said.
Branch had 18 points with a team-high 11 rebounds while Fowler added 15 points and six rebounds with most of his points coming on crowd-pleasing dunks.
With Branch and Fowler dominating the paint, Mt. SAC built a 42-30 lead heading into the second half.
ELAC’s three point shooting kept the game close in the first half as the Huskies connected five from beyond the arc, two of them coming from guard Michael Cardenas.
ELAC made adjustments in the second half with its interior defense, but Mounties guard Samuel Holmes took advantage from outside the paint. Holmes scored 13 points, making three-of-four from beyond the arc.
“Our bigs kicked out and we made some shots. They made some adjustments, but we were ready. We prepared really hard for them (ELAC),” Maloney said.
With the Mounties running a sound offense and playing strong defense, their 12-point halftime lead doubled in the first five minutes of the second half, 62-38.
“We had a lot of turnovers, but that was due to their pressure. It was a tough game to lose,” ELAC forward Primitivo Gomez said.
The lone bright spots for ELAC were Gomez and shooting guard Marcus Romain, who tried to keep the game close with constant aggressive drives to the basket.
“We’ll bounce back this Friday against Pasadena. We’ll be ready,” Gomez said.
Maloney added that ELAC is a powerhouse program in the conference and that they should be a team to watch out for as the season goes on.
“We still have a lot to work on. We are dealing with some injuries to some of our players. We just (have to) keep working hard and will be alright,” Mosley said.