By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
Photos by Tim Strong/COC Sports Information
It took a late three-pointer by sophomore Michael Kalu and a trip to overtime, but College of the Canyons picked up its first conference victory of the season with a 74-63 win over Santa Monica College on Wednesday night in the Cougar Cage.
Canyons (11-10, 1-1) was in control after jumping out to a 32-19 halftime lead with Kalu putting up 10 points in the opening period.
That early success continued until Santa Monica (3-17, 0-2) was able to cut the lead to five with a little under 11 minutes to go in the game.
The Corsairs shot better than 43 percent in the second half, compared to a mark of just 22 percent to begin the game. SMC forward Jhamad Norwood scored 17 points after the break and ended the night with a team-high 21 points.
Santa Monica eventually regained the lead at 48-47 with 6:16 to play, and pushed its lead to as much as five.
Canyons would lean on Kalu and sophomore Jacob Lilley down the stretch as the duo combined for 20 of COC's 27 points in the half.
With 34 seconds to play Lilley found Kalu open in front of the Cougar bench for a three-point bucket that gave COC the lead back at 58-57.
Later, with five ticks left on the clock, COC sophomore Philip Webb converted on the first of two free throws to make it 59-57, giving Santa Monica one last shot to tie.
Sure enough, Norwood was able to send the game to overtime with a short jump shot that knotted the game at 59-59 and gave the fans in the Cougar Cage five minutes of free basketball.
In the overtime period Webb opened up the scoring with a layup that sparked the Cougars on a 10-2 run that eventually put the game away. Lilley scored six points in the extra period to finish with 16 points, five assists and four steals.
Kalu finished with a game-high 24 points and six rebounds. The sophomore has now surpassed the 20-point mark in eight games this year, including his last two outings.
Webb led the reserves with nine points and a game-high 10 boards.
Canyons will return to action at 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan 27, in a conference road game vs. Bakersfield College.
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.