With the loss of two starters, Fountain Valley might be playing on borrowed time, but it was Irvine that ran out of it in the opening round of the Division I-A playoffs.
Fountain Valley point guard Paul Tayyar scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half and Irvine missed two game-tying three-pointers in the final seconds as the host Barons earned a 64-61 victory Tuesday night.
Fountain Valley, the Sunset League champion, advanced to the second round, Friday against Canyon Country Canyon, a 74-72 winner against Ventura Buena.
Irvine had a chance to force overtime in the final 21 seconds, but three-point attempts by forwards Darrell Parker and Jermaine Hill fell short as time expired. A dunk by Phil Domingo with 50 seconds left turned out to be the difference. Still, Fountain Valley was forced to endure some anxious moments before it ended.
"I don't know how far we'll go in the playoffs, but we squeaked this one out," Fountain Valley Coach Gordon Billingsley said. "Luckily we hit some shots in the end."
The Barons (18-7) were able to win despite playing without starters Dan Keller, who broke his foot in a game last week, and Mike Arvesen, who has been bothered by a viral heart infection that forced him to leave last week's game against Los Alamitos, Billingsley said. But Tayyar, Domingo and forward Phil Uribe took up the slack with free throws and some key baskets.
Irvine led, 34-26, with 5:37 left in the third quarter before the Barons rallied. Tayyar scored seven points in a row to cut the deficit to one with 4:38 left in the quarter. The two teams traded baskets for the rest of the quarter before Fountain Valley grabbed a 44-43 lead entering the final period.
Tayyar, who had nine points in the third and fourth, was Fountain Valley's most effective scorer. He gave Fountain Valley the lead for good on a three-point play with 4:36 remaining.
The Barons appeared to have the game in hand after Domingo's dunk gave them a 62-55 lead. But Irvine (12-15) got a free throw by Hill and two more by Amiri Rahimi to slice the lead to four, 62-58, with 38 seconds left.
Two free throws by Tim Katz gave Fountain Valley a 64-58 advantage with 35 seconds remaining, but Irvine's Shaun Guinn hit a three-pointer with 29 seconds left to pull Irvine within three. Tayyar, who was 12 of 13 from the free-throw line, had his only miss with 26 seconds remaining, giving Irvine a shot at overtime. But the Vaqueros failed to convert.
In other Division I-A games:
Corona Centennial 53, Century 47 (2OT)--Hector Beltran made two free throws with 27 seconds in regulation to force overtime and B.J. Wallace made two free throws with 22 seconds left to tie the score, 43-43, in the first overtime.
Rialto 56, Orange 54 (OT)--Danny Garcia had 23 points and seven rebounds and sophomore Juan Dotson added 15 points for visiting Orange (16-10).