SANTA MONICA — With the surging Glendale Community College men’s basketball team riding a four-game winning streak into Saturday night’s Western State Conference South Division showdown, it appeared there was no slowing down the Vaqueros.
Santa Monica College, however, found a way.
The Corsairs buried 13 three-pointers to build up a big lead and held the Glendale college offense in check for most of the night en route to an 87-76 victory at Santa Monica.
“They couldn’t miss,” said Vaqueros freshman Markus Monroe, who finished with 15 points. “They had a great shooting game. This week we didn’t have the practices that we should have had.”
Santa Monica (15-12, 2-6 in conference) jumped out to a 43-29 halftime advantage and then built its second-half lead up to as much as 26 points before a late Glendale run made the final score closer.
“The problem was, we were down like 30 and just quit,” Glendale college freshman Lanval Gordon said. “Instead of everybody sticking together and making it happen, we just gave up.”
Gordon, a reserve guard from New York, paced the Vaqueros, scoring 14 of his team-high 16 points in the second half. Tyief Thompson chipped in 11 points and five rebounds for Glendale college (16-12, 5-4).
Leading the charge for Santa Monica was guard Noah Gottlieb, who finished with 19 points, including five three-pointers. The inside-outside game of Corsairs freshman Carl Kindborg gave Glendale fits most of the night as he finished with 18 points and nine rebounds.
The Vaqueros were forced to play the game without starting point guard Jose Garcia, who sprained his left knee toward the end of Glendale’s win over Los Angeles Valley College on Wednesday.
Garcia, who was on crutches on Saturday, said he will miss around a week, but should return at some point this season.
“Nobody could really get into it [tonight],” Monroe said. “Our point guard is out with a knee and he’s a big, big factor in our team.”
The Vaqueros seemed to feel the loss of Garcia midway through the first half.
After a Gordon layup chopped the Corsairs’ lead to 17-15, Santa Monica scored the next nine points to open up a double-digit lead.
Glendale struggled to find any offense during that stretch, as Santa Monica switched to a zone defense, forcing the Vaqueros to settle for outside jumpers.
“The zone messed us up because their wing span was too long, so we really couldn’t get it inside,” Gordon said.
A Kevin Dancer baseline jumper pulled the Vaqueros closer at 34-26, but Santa Monica’s Ryan Avilez, who finished with 13 points, splashed in a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Corsairs their 14-point halftime lead.
The second half has often been where Glendale college has been at its best this season, but Saturday night was a different story.
The Corsairs opened the second half on a 16-4 spurt and never looked back.
Glendale college closed out the game on a 33-18 run, but the big lead was too much to overcome.
Glendale’s Curtis Leslie and Dancer, who were huge during the Vaqueros’ four-game winning streak, were held to just eight and nine points, respectively.
The hot shooting from Santa Monica on Saturday, which hit 13 of 29 three-pointers, was a stark contrast to the first time the two clubs met. In the Jan. 16 game, a 76-73 Glendale victory, the Vaqueros held the Corsairs to just two of 19 from long distance in the first half.
Glendale will have Wednesday off this week, before hosting conference-leading Citrus College at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday The Vaqueros are 3-1 at home in conference action this year.
“We’re gonna start on Monday, go hard on Monday and finish this whole week going hard,” Monroe said. “We have Citrus coming in and we’ll see what happens.”
DYLAN KRUSE covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.