Former Cal State Northridge player Bill Mazurie took over for Cerritos College down the stretch and led the Falcons to an 82-74 victory over turnover-plagued Ventura in a semifinal of the state men's junior college basketball tournament Friday night.
Mazurie, a 6-foot-3 guard, scored 22 of Cerritos' final 31 points and finished with 32.
The victory at the San Jose State Event Center snapped Ventura's 18-game winning streak and marked the second time the Falcons (32-4) had beaten the Pirates (33-5) this season. Cerritos will play West Valley tonight for the state championship.
Ventura committed 17 turnovers, including three in the final three minutes.
"It was the little things that killed us," Ventura Coach Philip Mathews said. "We had several chances to close the lead at the end but didn't do it."
Ventura trailed by 13 points early in the second half but twice trimmed its deficit to three late in the game. Turnovers, however, prevented the Pirates from drawing closer.
Michael Tate's basket cut Ventura's deficit to 73-70 with 3 minutes 36 seconds left, but Donyhel Johnson threw the ball out of bounds on a four-on-two fast break after a Cerritos turnover.
After Mazurie hit a seven-foot leaner in the lane to give Cerritos a five-point lead, Reggie Phillips (12 points) scored on an alley-oop dunk to make the score, 75-72. Cerritos turned the ball over again, but Ventura failed to capitalize as Stephane Brown lost control of the ball in the lane, and the Falcons regained possession on a tied-up ball.
Mazurie, who played as a freshman at Northridge two seasons ago before redshirting at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo last season, hit one of two free throws to give Cerritos a 76-72 lead with 2:10 left.
Ventura lost the ball on its next possession when an attempted lob to Phillips went awry, and Mazurie stole the ball the next time the Pirates had it, leading to a basket by Jeff Polloreno and a six-point Cerritos lead.
"We tried to rush it too much instead of relaxing at the end," said Brown, who scored a team-high 17 points.
Mazurie, who hit the game-winning basket with one second remaining in Cerritos' 79-77 win over Columbia in the quarterfinals Thursday, was too much for Ventura's vaunted defense.
"I thought I could take my man coming in," Mazurie said. "And Coach (Jack Bogdanovich) pretty much gives me a free rein out there and let's me free-lance."
Brown hounded Mazurie for much of the game, but he was unsuccessful in trying to stop him.
"I tried to play him to his right," Brown said, "but he kept making that dribble to his left."
Tate had 15 points and a game-high 15 rebounds for Ventura.