NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Having overcome a 20-point deficit, the members of the Glendale Community College men's basketball team appeared on the verge of heading into overtime with momentum and a potential victory against one of the premier programs in the state.
Unfortunately for the Vaqueros, the extra session never occurred and they endured their most heartbreaking defeat of the season.
Tyree Harrison tipped in a shot as time expired to give visiting Citrus College a 78-76 victory against Glendale college on Wednesday night in a Western State Conference South Division opener for both teams.
After Glendale's Nick Rhodes knotted the game at 76 with 18.3 seconds remaining, Citrus, which advanced to the state championship final last season, saw a three-pointer by Brandon Parga hit the front of the rim. Harrison swooped in and tipped the ball in.
“I thought we'd get the rebound and the game would go into overtime,” said Glendale Coach Brian Beauchemin, whose team trailed, 49-29, with 16:55 remaining in the contest.
“The last four games between us and them have been decided by four points or less and this is a tough loss with it being in conference. It's about boxing out. It's frustrating.”
The Vaqueros fell to 8-9, while the Owls improved to 15-1.
Citrus Coach Chris Victor said Harrison, a sophomore forward, found an open lane in the closing seconds.
“One of the best qualities about [Harrison] is his ability to find the ball, offensively and defensively,” Victor said. “Fortunately for us, he was ready to go there.
“It's no surprise because we have total faith in him. [Glendale] did a great job at coming back and Brian does a great job coaching them.”
Harrison, who finished with 11 points, gave the Owls a 76-72 lead on a dunk with 47.5 seconds remaining. Rhodes then made a layup to cut the lead to 76-74 with 40.9 seconds left before tying the game at 76 on its following possession.
“We finally started making shots and we were able to come back,” said Beauchemin, whose team trailed, 42-27, at halftime. “We didn't roll over.”
Glendale received a team-high 16 points from sophomore wing Nate Bryant.
Bryant said the Vaqueros were able to regroup after struggling throughout the first half, which saw the Vaqueros commit 13 turnovers.
“We were able to put it together in the second half, but we've got to play two halves,” said Bryant, who added five assists. “We did what we could, but we came up short.”
Sophomore guard Mike Johnson and sophomore forward Marquis Brooks collected 13 and 10 points, respectively, for the Vaqueros.
Sophomore guard James Walker registered 13 points for the Owls, who got 12 from freshman guard Kerry Carter.
Glendale will next take part in a division road contest against Bakersfield at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Glendale and Citrus will meet again Jan. 28 at Citrus.