Men’s basketball suffers Final Four exit against Fullerton

By Miguel Dominguez

The men’s basketball team won the Elite Eight game but fell short in the Final Four game on Saturday. The team beat San Jose on Thursday 76-70. The East Los Angeles College team was ranked number six in the state and lost against the number-one team, Fullerton College, 75-63. ELAC led the majority in the game. Both teams were going back-and-forth as the entire game was close, keeping it a single-digit game.

Playing against San Jose was a fast-paced game as both teams were aggressively driving the ball in the paint. This also resulted in a lot of turnovers and fouls for both teams.

Nine turnovers were made by both teams in the first half, but ELAC scored 13 points while San Jose scored only 5 points off the turnovers.

There were three lead changes within the first four minutes of the game. ELAC led the entire game, but San Jose failed to take the lead when they were down 72-70.

San Jose’s Jacob Harper led the first half with 12 points in the game. ELAC’s Tyrell Hunt led the half with seven rebounds. Husky players Noel Scott and Gregory Melvin led the team with seven points.The Huskies led the half 37-33.

In the second half, both teams continued to play aggressively and fast. A little over five minutes into the half, ELAC led by 11 points after Scott converted a reverse layup. ELAC then led 53-42. San Jose took a timeout, but ELAC continued to score and led by 15 at 57-42.

San Jose cut the lead to eight points with under five minutes to go, after Jurrien Sparks converted the free throw attempt. ELAC led 70-62. San Jose pressured ELAC on the court and forced turnovers. ELAC struggled and San Jose was on an 11-0 run as the lead was cut to 70-68, after Harper made a 3-pointer. San Jose’s bench got on their feet and looked to gain confidence. The Huskies took a timeout.

ELAC responded after the timeout, as Scott stole the ball and drove it in for a layup and was fouled. 

ELAC led 72-68 with under three minutes to go. At under a minute to go, Scott drove the ball inside the paint and lost it. San Jose got the ball with 50 seconds left in the game. In the same possession, A.B. Gilchrist attempted a layup, but came up short.

San Jose’s Mison Coilton slapped the ball out and Jerry Jackson retrieved it. Jackson attempted a 3-pointer over Husky player Donjae Lindsey, and his shot hit the side of the rim and ELAC got the rebound with 19 seconds to go. ELAC was fouled and Melvin converted the two free throw attempts to make it 74-70. San Jose still had 19 seconds left to even up the game, but San Jose missed a 3-point attempt and fouled ELAC. The Huskies converted their two free throws and sealed the win 76-70.

Jon Sanders and Scott both finished the game with 15 points. Hunt and Melvin both had 8 rebounds. ELAC ended up going 49% from the field and making 8-20 from the 3-point line.   

The Huskies advanced to the Final Four to play against Fullerton. 

In the Final Four game, ELAC started off strong playing aggressively both on offense and defense. Fullerton was held scoreless in the first four minutes of the game as they trailed 6-0. ELAC’s defensive pressure made Fullerton lose the ball due to turnovers.

ELAC only made 5 of the 10 free throws in the first half. Fullerton was perfect as they made 6 out of 6 from the line. The missed free throws hurt ELAC late in the game. Fullerton made 13-29 (44%) from the field. ELAC made 14-38 (36%) from the field in the first half. Both teams struggled from the 3-point line as ELAC only made 2-8 and Fullerton made 3-10. On turnovers, Fullerton made nine and conceded 10 points. ELAC had four turnovers and conceded six points.

Husky J.T. Langston had the most points in the half with 10 points. Langston and Fullerton’s Sammy Howlin had the same number of rebounds with six in the half. Howlin was a huge factor on defense as he ended with a total of 13 rebounds in the game. Ten of those rebounds came on defense.

The second half started the same way it ended in the first, with both teams scoring back-to-back and kept it a single digit game. With nine minutes left, Howlin tied the game with an easy layup and made it 53-53. 

ELAC’s Demetrius Calip made a 3-pointer to take back the lead 56-53 with 8:14 to go. 

Fullerton took the lead as Jeremiah Davies drove the ball into the paint for an easy layup. 

ELAC trailed 57-56. Howlin extended the lead, after he made one of two free throws, 58-56 with 5:46 to go.

From that moment on ELAC struggled offensively.  Howlin made it difficult for ELAC to score as the 6-foot-11 player used his height to force ELAC to make tough shots.  

Time was also against ELAC, as every missed shot led to Fullerton getting defensive rebounds and using up the shot clock and game clock. 

ELAC’s defense was consistent throughout the game. 

Offensively they could not execute their shots after the 3-pointer was made by Calip back at the eight-minute mark when they led by three.

Fullerton had a 13-0 run after Sean Newman scored a 3-pointer to make it 66-56 with 2:34 left in the game. Fullerton scored three more points to make it 69-56 with 1:46 to go. ELAC was finally able to score with 1:37 to go after being scoreless for six minutes.

Fullerton ended ELAC’s season with the final score 75-63. ELAC finished the game only converting 10-19 (52.6%) free throws. Fullerton ended the game going 18-21 (85.5%) at the free-throw line.

Newman finished the game converting 3-3 from 3-point line, two of three came late in the game when they had the 16-0 run. Newman led in points with 19. Langston ended the day with 18 points and eight rebounds. Noel Scott had the most rebounds for ELAC with nine. Seven of the nine came on defense.

ELAC finished the season with 27 wins and 4 losses.

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