Late letdown doesn't cost Vaqs victory

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Having squandered an 11-point lead in the second half, the Glendale Community College men's basketball team turned to one of its top shooters to rescue it from another potential heartbreaking defeat.

In stepped Nate Bryant to make some clutch shots Wednesday night.

Bryant contributed 11 of his team-high 19 points in the second half to spark host Glendale college to an 80-77 Western State Conference Southern Division victory against West L.A.

"[West L.A.} started playing their game in the second half and we stuck in there," said Bryant, whose team held a 51-40 halftime advantage. "I had to come back and help us get the lead back by making some shots that were meant for me.

"We had to stick with it. It's a big win that we got."

Bryant, a sophomore wing, helped the Vaqueros improve to 10-9, 2-1 in the division.

The Wildcats (4-11, 0-2) took a 64-63 lead on a basket by Saion Udeah with 11:37 remaining in the game. West L.A. then held a 68-65 lead until Bryant made a three-pointer to knot the score at 68 on the Vaqueros' ensuing possession.

He then gave the Vaqueros the lead for good with another three-pointer with 7:04 remaining to make it 71-70.

"That's Nate's deal," Glendale Coach Brian Beauchemin said. "He made those big shots and he was comfortable doing so.

"It's not easy and it doesn't matter what West L.A.'s record is because it's very deceiving."

The Wildcats' nearly mounted a second comeback in the second half after the Vaqueros missed three of four free-throw shots in the final 25.6 seconds. West L.A.'s bid to send the game into overtime fell short when Rodney Blackmon's shot hit the backboard.

"We are normally good with our free-throw shooting, but we didn't get it done when we could have clinched it earlier," said Beauchemin, whose team made 12 of 16 free-throw attempts.

The Vaqueros, who began division play with a buzzer-beating defeat against state finalist Citrus on Jan. 4 before regrouping for a road win against Bakersfield on Saturday, had four players score 10 or more points.

In addition to Bryant, sophomore guard Nick Rhodes finished with 16 points, eight assists and three steals, freshman guard Robert Henry had 14 points and three steals and sophomore center Soreen Derboghosian Pakajaki added 10 points and nine rebounds.

Blackmon, a sophomore guard, contributed a game-high 25 points and finished with seven rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Wildcats, who will play host to the Vaqueros at 7 p.m. Feb. 4. Teammate Brandon Morris, a freshman guard, registered 16 points and four steals.

The Vaqueros will next face host Santa Monica City College at 7 p.m. Saturday. Santa Monica won the division championship last season.

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