Fullerton, CA - The Citrus College Men's Basketball team, ranked #20 in the pre-season State Coaches Poll, needed all they had on Wednesday evening when they opened up the 2016 Fullerton College Classic against old WSC South rival Bakersfield College. Luckily for the Owls, they had sophomore Tyler LaCour who scored a career high 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds in taking the Owls past Bakersfield in overtime 81-79.
Bakersfield would put Citrus in an early hole on the evening, scoring 10 of the game's first 12 points. The Owls would use a 8-2 run to pull within two after a jumper by freshman Khalil Williams with 11:22 left in the first half. The Renegades would answer with three of the next four buckets, and Bakersfield's lead would stay around six for the remainder of the first half as they went into halftime leading the Owls 35-29.
The Owls would come out of the break and get a triple from sophomore Kenneth Cyprian and then seven straight from LaCour to give Citrus their first lead of the night 39-38 after he hit a three of his own with 17:08 to go. The Owls would keep the Renegades at arms length over the next eight minutes, extending their lead to a game high nine points after a pair of free-throws by freshman Jeremy Smith. Bakersfield refused to go away quietly though, keeping the game within reach before rallying with the final five points of the second half to send the game into overtime tied at 72.
In overtime, Bakersfield scored the extra periods first points, laying the ball up and in on their first possession. The Owls responded on a jumper by freshman Andrew Ammann, only to watch as the Renegades hit a three two possessions later. Ammmann would help the Owls respond in kind, tying the game back up on a shot from downtown with 2:40 to go.
Bakersfield would go back up by two with 2:17 to go after a pair of free-throws, but LaCour split the two points hitting the front end of two on Citrus' next trip down the floor making it 78-79. The Owls would get a stop on Bakersfield's next possession, and Citrus worked the ball inside. Smith would try to lay the ball up and in off the glass, but it missed finding the hands of LaCour. LaCour went back up for the putback, but couldn't get the shot to fall. LaCour would snag another offensive board and this time his shot was true putting Citrus up 80-79.
With 1:13 still left in overtime, Citrus drew a charge on Bakersfield's next possession, but a missed three point attempt by the Owls, gave the Renegades the ball back with 29 seconds to go. Up by one, Citrus got another big defensive stand, and on the inbound Williams would get the ball and get fouled. Williams hit the back end of two free-throws and Bakersfield didn't get a shot off at the buzzer to preserve the win.
Ammann was the only other Owl outside of LaCour to finish in double-digits, scoring 12 for Citrus. Williams would finish with eight and seven boards, while Smith finished with a team high four assists.
With the win, Citrus improves to 3-1 on the young season. The Owls advance to the semi-finals of the Fullerton Classic and will take on the tournament host State #9 Fullerton College at 7:00 PM on Friday.