Glendora, CA - The Citrus College Men's Basketball team incredible 2016-2017 campaign came to a halt on Saturday evening in the "Sweet Sixteen". Conference rival Antelope Valley stopped the Owls in the same exact round as they did the previous season, hitting the game winning shot with just over two seconds to play in a 74-71 loss.
Citrus had exactly the start they needed opening the game on an 11-2 run, with freshman Jeremy Smith hitting the game's opening bucket and freshman Andrew Ammann forcing an AVC timeout less than three minutes in after a big triple. The timeout helped refocus the Marauders who slowly chipped away at the Owls lead getting their deficit down to around four points, but another big run by the Owls midway through, pushed the lead to a game high 14 after a steal and layup by sophomore Kenneth Cyprian made it 26-12 with 8:03 to play in the first half.
The Marauders were simply too talented to go away quietly however as they used the final eight minutes to work their way back into the contest scoring 23 of the final 34 points to head into halftime down by just three 34-37. In the second half, Citrus would continue to hang on to the lead until the 12:36 mark when a layup off an Owl turnover gave AVC their first lead of the game 49-47. Over the next eight minutes, the game would be tied up four times and the lead would exchange hands three different times.
Citrus would regain the lead with just over four minutes to go on a three-point play by Smith that made it 63-61. The Owls would hold off the Marauders as long as possible, but Antelope proved relentless. Leading by just one, Citrus would seemingly rally when sophomore Tyler LaCour hit an important three to push the lead to 71-67, but on the next defensive possession, LaCour would foul out, and thus ended most of Citrus' momentum.
AVC would hit both of their free-throws off the LaCour foul, and then would catch a break when Smith, who was 6-for-6 up to that point at the charity stripe missed both of his free-throw attempts, to give the Marauders a chance to tie with under a minute to play. With the shot clock winding down, AVC got to the rim and made a circus layup to tie the game up at 71-71 and just 35 seconds on the clock.
Out of an AVC timeout, Citrus took an ill advised three early in the shot clock that sailed out of bounds and gave the Marauders a chance to win the game with 16 seconds to go. After a few attempts to get to the rim, Antelope fired up a wild three, and the ball went through the hoop dashing the Owls Elite Eight hopes.
In the loss, Citrus was paced by Smith who scored a game high 23 points. Cyprian added 16, while LaCour was the next closest with nine points. Sophomore Calvin Martin had a team high 11 rebounds and game high five steals in the loss. With the loss, Citrus' season ends with a 24-7 mark.