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Long Beach Men's Basketball Comes Up Short against Top-Ranked ECC-Compton

Picture by Jocelyn Gonzlaez
Picture by Jocelyn Gonzlaez

The Long Beach City College men's basketball team played host to the top-ranked ECC-Compton Tartars on Wednesday night in conference play. High-flying action was on full display in the Hall of Champions Gymnasium with both teams surpassing the century mark in scoring. With the game tied at 103 apiece with a hair over a minute remaining after sophomore guard Breamon Richard (Los Angeles, CA) hit the game-tying three pointer, the Vikings allowed the Tartars to take the ball coast-to-coast and bank in the game-winning layup as time expired.

The game was wire-to-wire from opening tip as there were a total of 14 ties and 10 lead changes in the contest.

The Vikings started in a hole by trailing ECC-Compton early by six points, but back-to-back three pointers from freshman guard Charles Smith (Downey, CA) and freshman guard William English (Long Beach, CA) trimmed the deficit to five points. English hit another three pointer to maintain the distance, sparking another triple from Smith to eventually bring the score to 23-21 in the Tartar's favor with just under 13 minutes remaining.

Freshman guard Mark Neal Jr. (Long Beach, CA) caught the downtown bug by drilling a three later in the first half, followed by another English bucket. Freshman guard Matt Arrivas (Sacramento, CA) followed the next possession by corralling an offensive rebound and rising up from a rim-rattling dunk. Richard continued on to hit one of two free throws to bring the game's first tied score at 31-all under the 10 minute mark.

The three-ball continued to drop, as Neal Jr. and English each flushed yet another shot beyond the arc. Richard assisted on both shots. Smith cashed in at the charity stripe a handful of possessions later by draining two, followed by a jumper from Richard to hold a two point lead at 47-45 under the five-minute mark.

The score continued to teeter-totter back and forth between the Vikings holding the lead and the game being tied. Within the final two minutes of the first half, the contest featured two lead changes and three ties thus leading to a 58-55 ECC-Compton advantage at halftime.

The Vikings were immediately hit with a 7-2 run in the opening minute and one half of the second half, putting themselves in a quick six-point deficit. However, English began to slowly shoot them out of the small slump by knocking down a three pointer and recording a layup. He then hit a crucial three pointer, followed by Arrivas laying two points off the glass to bring the score to 67-all with a touch over 15 minutes remaining.

Neal Jr. made offense into defense a couple possessions later by pocketing a steal and working his way to the foul line where he cashed in two points. Smith handed the Vikings their lead back shortly after by knocking down a three pointer which was again assisted by Richard.

Numerous Vikings were contributing on the offensive front, making it difficult for ECC-Compton to stop the outpour of buckets. Freshman guard Duwane Hicks (Detroit, MI) chipped in two points, followed by jumpers from Richard and Smith, respectfully, giving LBCC a 85-82 lead with seven minutes to go.

The contest began to heat up under the five minute mark as both team were playing at a highly effective level. Richard gave the Vikings a three-point cushion by drilling a stop-and-pop three pointer, followed by two free throws from English to bring the score to 98-95 in Long Beach's favor.

After a made bucket by the Tartars, English maintained that advantage by kissing two points off the glass. However, a three pointer from ECC-Compton's Jayvon Brown tied the game at 100 apiece with just over a minute remaining.

Following a missed three-pointer by the Vikings, the Tartars went on to complete and and-one play to take the lead at 103-100 with 18 seconds remaining.

Nevertheless, with minimal time on the clock, the veteran Richard took the inbound pass, dribbled through traffic and pulled up for three and banked in the shot to tie the contest at 103-all with 11 seconds remaining.

Despite the epic shot, the Tartars had enough time on the clock to drive the floor and flip up an acrobatic layup for the victory, thus handing the Vikings a 103-105 loss.

Four Viking players ended the game in double-digit scoring with English pacing the pack. He finished with 27 points and eight rebounds. Richard backed him with 25 points and five assists, while Smith flushed 21 points and earned two steals.

Neal Jr. finished with 10 points and dished out four assists as well.

The Vikings (6-15, 2-3 SCC) will travel to LA Harbor for a conference matchup at 5 p.m. on Friday, February 3.