By Andrew Ruiz
After a tough first half, Marcus Romain answered in the second, but came up short as the East Los Angeles College men’s basketball team fell to Long Beach City College, 74-71, Jan. 23.
The Huskies battled for 38 minutes and 58.4 seconds, but in the last 1.4 seconds, Romain’s heave from about 30 feet out to force overtime hit the side of the rim as the buzzer sounded.
The Vikings, ranked No. 11 in the state, have won eight straight and 16 of their last 17 games improving their record to 16-4 and remain in first place (4-0) in the South Coast Conference South Division. ELAC falls to 11-9 and 2-2 in the SCC North Division.
“It’s disappointing that I can’t close the game for my team,” Romain said. “It was a tough loss.”
Despite battling the loss, Romain also battled with fatigue down the stretch. He went 1-for-4 from the free-throw line in the last minute.
During the game, he insinuated some sort of stomach pain while at the free-throw line, later mentioning the cause was due to not having a pregame meal.
Romain only scored six points in the first half, but scored 15 in the second, finishing the night with 21.
Sophomore guard Je’Ron Primus’ 18 points and leadership gave the Huskies a boost throughout the game, but he fouled out with 1:17 left in the game.
“We just have to play better defense, have no turnovers and make better plays down the stretch,” ELAC Head Coach John Mosley said. “(We) can’t win against a team like this without taking care of the ball.”
From the tip, the Vikings came out in a full-court press and looked to get on the board early.
They forced the Huskies to commit 23 turnovers that translated into 19 points and dominated with second chance points, 23-6; and led the points in the paint category, 30-24.
Vikings’ sophomore guards Brandon Stanton and Chris Spencer combined for 40 of Long Beach’s 71 points. Stanton’s game-winning layup and free throw gave the Vikings the three-point lead in the final seconds.
ELAC’s sophomore guard Te’shon Burton still remains sidelined for the third straight game with a foot injury. With Burton missing from the rotation, freshman backup point guard Osnar Garcia’s minutes have increased and coach Mosley is impressed with his ability to fill Burton’s void with his solidness the last couple of games.
“(Garcia) comes to work everyday,” Mosley said. “He prepares himself to perform and compete, so we can count on him to come out and give us some good minutes.”
The Huskies return home Jan. 28 and will host Los Angeles Harbor College (11-7, 2-2 SCC South Division) at 5 p.m.
“It’s going to feel better (to come and play in front of our own crowd),” Romain said. “We’re going to have a chip on our shoulder and try to get these next two teams (L.A. Harbor and El Camino) out of there early.”