By Andrew Ruiz
Prior to Jan. 30’s South Coast Conference divisional crossover game between East Los Angeles and El Camino College, Huskies freshmen Richard Bivens and Miles Ford joked about possibly making game-winning free throws this season.
But what originally started as humor between the two, quickly turned into reality for Bivens, a forward from Ridgeview HS in Bakersfield, California, as he split a pair of free throws to give the Huskies the 77-76 win over the Warrior’s with 3.5 seconds left in the game.
“I got to hit these free throws,” Bivens said to himself as he hustled to the free-throw line.
Bivens would go 8-for-8 from the line before missing his first one, but he knew what was at stake and handled the pressure accordingly.
“Yeah, I felt nervous, but I had to hit it,” Bivens said. “I didn’t want to go to overtime.”
Bivens, a 67 percent free-throw shooter this season, went 9-for-10 from the charity stripe against the Warriors. He was the second-leading scorer (15 points) for the Huskies behind sophomore guard Marcus Romain who finished with 17 points. Marquis Salmon, another freshman forward chipped in 12.
As a team, the Huskies are shooting a stellar 74 percent from the free-throw line this season. Against El Camino, the Huskies shot 85 percent and made 10 of 12 free throws in the last five minutes of the second half.
The one area that the Huskies need to improve on this season is the ability to take care of the ball on the offensive end. Overall, the team averages 22 turnovers and 27 in conference play. On Friday night, the Huskies committed 33—20 of them coming in the second half.
The Huskies led in double digits throughout the game (18 was the largest), but El Camino applied different variations of defenses that would rattle the Huskies on offense and cut the lead. The Warriors’ freshman shooting guard Christopher Muñoz would nail a 3-pointer and sophomore guard Derrick Twiggs knocked down two free throws that tied the game at 76 with seven seconds to go.
“They (El Camino) had more physicality than we did, so they were able to bump us and slap the ball—and we weren’t strong with the ball,” ELAC Head Coach John Mosley said. “We just have to take care of the ball and value each possession.”
The physicality Mosley spoke about was the Warriors’ 6-foot-5-inch behemoth in freshman forward Kane Wildermuth who used his 262-pound frame to dominate inside the paint.
Wildermuth scored 13 points in the loss and was one of four Warriors’ who finished the game in double digits (Emmanuel Pope, 10; Christopher Muñoz, 18; Derrick Twiggs, 17).
The Huskies now stand at 13-9 overall and still remain 2-2 in the SCC North Division.
Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. is the last divisional crossover game as ELAC hopes to give Los Angeles Southwest College (7-12) their sixth consecutive loss.
The Huskies return to conference play on Feb. 6 as they host Mt. San Antonio College (21-1, 4-0) at 5 p.m.