WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. — Freshman forward Anthony Simone scored 28 points and Michael Kalu added 23 more, but the Cougars could not hold off L.A. Pierce College in a 100-96 thriller on Saturday night.
Canyons (9-11, 0-1) entered the Western State Conference (WSC), South Division opener as winners of three straight and may have played good enough to win a fourth. However, the Cougars committed 21 turnovers in the game and saw the Brahmas convert 29-of-37 free throws while committing seven fewer turnovers, which proved to be the difference.
By comparison, COC was just 14-of-20 from the charity stripe. The Cougars shot a combined 50 percent from the floor and saw four players score in double digits.
Simone led the charge on Saturday, adding eight rebounds and three blocks on a 10-of-14 shooting night.
Kalu notched five three-pointers on the night to help pace a Cougars offense that has scored 90 or more points in three of its last four contests, after reaching that plateau just one in the previous 16 games. Canyons scored a season high 106 points vs. Oxnard College in the season opener.
In a back-and-forth game that provided lots of highlights, the Cougars headed into halftime trailing 51-49 with a 5-0 run to close out the opening period.
Canyons was then able to open up a brief 56-51 lead three minutes into the second half on a pair of free throws by Simone. After falling behind 57-56, COC charged back again with a 6-0 run that but the Cougs ahead by five at 62-57.
That frenzied pace continued throughout, until the Brahmas were able to eventually seal the victory with a pair of free throws that put Pierce ahead by four points with just six seconds left on the clock.
Omri Altit was able to get off a final three-pointer or the Cougars as time expired, but COC ended the game by coming up just short.
Pierce forward Chance Cole scored a game-high 33 points including a perfect 14-of-14 mark from the line. Guard Jordan Newt also scored 22 points to help provide an offensive spark for the Brahmas.
With just seven regular season games remaining, Canyons will next host Santa Monica College at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24, in the Cougar Cage.
Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
—Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information