Dean Balcao waited a long time between baskets, 36 minutes 44 seconds, to be exact.
But, as far as the Chapman College basketball team was concerned, the wait was well worth it.
Balcao dropped a 25-foot three-point field goal with 3 seconds left in regulation to give the Panthers a chance to extend their season.
They didn’t waste it.
Chapman stunned Cal State Dominguez Hills, 67-62, in overtime in the semifinals of the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. tournament Friday night at Riverside Community College.
Balcao’s jumper sent the game into overtime after the Panthers rallied from a nine-point deficit in 2:25 to tie the score, 59-59. Balcao also had a couple of steals in overtime.
Chapman will play UC Riverside tonight at 8 for the conference’s automatic berth in the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. Division II playoffs. Riverside defeated Cal State Bakersfield, 73-68, in the second game Friday.
“I’m speechless,” Chapman Coach Rich Prospero said. “So don’t expect any answers.”
With 2:25 left in regulation, Dominguez Hills (19-9) had a 55-46 lead. Most of the 1,129 in attendance were awaiting the second game of the doubleheader.
“It hit me, this could be the last 2 minutes of my career,” Chapman senior forward Russ Ortega said. “I decided that, tired or not, I was going to bust a gut for those 2 minutes.”
The Panthers (17-11) outscored the Toros, 21-7, from that point on. However, they needed a few breaks.
The Toros missed three one-and-one opportunities in the final 2 minutes. They also had a slip-up on defense, as Michael Bell left Chapman’s Mike Minier all alone for a three-pointer, which pulled the Panthers to within 59-56 with 19 seconds left.
Bryan Dell’Amico had a chance to ice the game with 11 seconds left, but missed the first of a one-and-one.
Ortega, who had 13 points and eight rebounds, grabbed the rebound and gave the ball to Balcao. Balcao fed Bryan Richetto, who dribbled the ball into the front court, were he was surrounded by three defenders.
Richetto passed back to Balcao, who let fly from well behind the three-point line. The ball swished through with 3 seconds left.
“I really wanted Bryan to shoot it,” said Balcao, who was the conference leader in three-point percentage. “That’s why I gave it to him in the first place. I had made only one shot all night.”
Rog Middleton, who had 23 points, made four free throws in overtime, including two with 22 seconds left to give the Panthers a 65-59 lead.
“For 38 minutes, Dominguez Hills did everything they had done to beat us twice during the season,” Prospero said. “But they didn’t make their free throws at the end.”