By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
College of the Canyons fought back from a second-half deficit to force an exciting back-and-forth overtime period before eventually falling 73-72 vs. visiting Saddleback College in the Cougars' home opener.
Playing at the MacArthur Center on the campus of The Master's University, COC stayed in the game right down to the final seconds when sophomore Jah-Kez Moore fired off a three-point shot that appeared to be online, but ultimately fell short as the final buzzer sounded.
Canyons (3-3) has suffered two losses by three points or less this season. The Cougars have also won a pair of games by a two-point margin.
COC freshman Christopher Bradford finished the game with 17 points, which included a pair of clutch free-throws in the final seconds of regulation that forced the game to overtime. Bradford was just 2-of-10 from the floor but converted on 13-of 17 foul shots.
Sophomore Jordan Nash led all scorers with 22 points and also recorded six steals, five assists and three rebounds to help keep the Cougars close throughout.
Zach Phipps finished with 16 points while Virgil Mahoney made his contribution in the form of 12 rebounds, three steals and four blocks. Joel Carrillo led the reserves with five points as Canyons played with just an eight-man rotation.
The Cougars trailed Saddleback (4-3) by seven points with 2:37 to go in the game before climbing all the way back. A three-pointer by Moore cut the Gauchos' lead to 59-55 with under a minute to go.
After a Canyons timeout, Moore nabbed an errant Saddleback layup off the glass and found Nash for a fast break layup that pulled the Cougars within a bucket at 59-57.
Saddleback pushed it back to 61-57 with under 20 seconds to play, but another quick layup from Nash kept the Cougars in it at 61-59 before Bradford was able to tie things up at 61-61 with a pair of free throws that sent the game to overtime.
The Gauchos had three players score in double figures with David Dial and reserve George Maslennikov leading the way at 18 apiece. Nik Lipovic added 12 points while Captain Whitlock pulled down 10 rebounds.
Canyons will have a short break before returning to action Saturday, Dec. 7, vs. West Hills Coalinga College. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the MacArthur Center.
Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.