Coast suffers tough home loss to Santiago Canyon amid playoff push

OCC guard Logen Howard (#1) dribbles past the defender in OCC’s home loss to Santiago Canyon College on Thursday. 

The Orange Coast College men’s basketball team failed to close out the regular season with a fourth-straight win, losing 86-77 at home to conference-rival Santiago Canyon College on Thursday. 

The Pirates found themselves in a logjam after defeating Santa Ana College on Tuesday, as the win put OCC in a four-way tie for second place in the Orange Empire Conference standings. However, following the loss to the Hawks, who they were previously tied with, the Pirates finished their regular season in fifth place in the OEC. 

“We have to keep believing and just continue to do what we do,” OCC associate head coach Jamaal Lee said. “If we can do that continuously and be consistent, then I think we’ll still have a great shot to be a dangerous team in the playoffs.” 

Coast fell behind early in the first half, shooting 1-for-8 to start the contest as the Pirates fell into an early 14-2 hole. Sophomore guard Boogie Hall provided the first punch on offense for OCC with a pair of three pointers on back-to-back possessions, and a crafty layup from guard Logen Howard on the following possession made it a 10-2 Pirates to cut the Hawks’ lead to 23-18 at the 10:11 mark. 

“It’s Sophomore Night. There’s a lot of nerves, everybody’s family is in town,” Lee said on the Pirates’ slow start to Thursday’s contest. “I thought we had some possessions early on where we got good shot attempts that we just didn’t take advantage of, and [Santiago Canyon] converted on the other end.”

Despite Santiago Canyon nailing more three-pointers and outscoring the Pirates in points in the paint 26-14 in the first half, OCC was able to keep the Hawks’ lead short due to a 12-to-2 advantage in free throw attempts. Hall earned eight shots at the charity stripe in the period, and led the Pirates with 13 first half points as OCC trailed 41-37 at halftime. 

Hall continued to keep OCC’s offensive attack afloat in the second half, scoring the Pirates’ first seven points of the period on his way to a 28-point performance on 8-for-16 shooting. However, the Hawks would unleash on an 11-3 run to take a 60-49 lead shortly after. The Pirates continued to struggle on the interior defensively, allowing a 50-36 advantage to the Hawks’ in points in the paint during Thursday’s contest. 

“We weren’t as aggressive as we would like to be in getting downhill and getting paint touches,” Lee said. “They kept us in the grind and made us run around the perimeter.” 

Hawks’ sophomore guard Aaron Wadman challenged OCC’s defense with continuous hard drives to the basket, racking up 23 points on 6-for-13 shooting while also adding 10 rebounds and eight assists. 

OCC spent the majority of the second half trying to muster together a run, but could not manage to string together enough buckets to flip the game’s momentum, shooting 39.4% from the field in the contest.

In a sequence emblematic of OCC’s struggles on Thursday night, Hall nailed a three-pointer to cut the lead to 67-60 with five minutes remaining, then stole the inbounds pass from Santiago Canyon, but missed the open layup to potentially cut the lead to five. Freshman guard Sam Hunter scooped up the offensive board off of Hall’s miss, but then missed another open layup, and the Hawks’ scored on the following possession to bring the lead to 69-60. 

“If we do make it to the playoffs, hopefully we’ll convert on those opportunities,” Lee said. “When we do that, we’re a pretty good team but if we don’t convert those, then we’re not a good team.” 

Following that missed opportunity, the Pirates were unable to claw back into the game, as the Hawks’ would take the 86-77 victory on the road. 

In a regular season that saw the Pirates rebound from a 3-13 conference record last season to a 9-7 record this year, OCC will now hope for a chance to make a playoff run despite Thursday’s loss. Coast Report will provide updates on playoff seeding information when available. 

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