Santiago Canyon topples No. 2 Fullerton, Smith and Lopez Combine for 46 Points
ORANGE - The Santiago Canyon College men's basketball team had its back pressed up against the wall after the first half of an Orange Empire Conference (OEC) showdown against the No. 2 Fullerton College Hornets. After facing a 12-point deficit at the start of the second half, the Hawks took flight and rallied with a strong, physical second half that led to a 69-65 home win.
The Hornets closed out the opening 20 minutes on an 8-2 run to extend their lead to 10 points entering the locker room. An early second-half bucket gave them a 12-point advantage, but the Hawks responded by strapping on their hard hats and going to work.
SCC responded by going on a 9-2 run to cut the Hornet's advantage to a mere five points. Sophomore guard Kai Smith was the catalyst as he netted the Hawks' nine points which included a set of threes leading up to the 16-minute mark.
Sophomore center Chico Lopez kept the momentum going as he kissed a pair of layups off the glass to maintain the five-point deficit the following minute. His second lay-up drew a foul and a trip to the line where she converted the and-one opportunity. Scoring went stagnant for the next minute until freshman guard Eli Arthurton rose up and snapped the bottom of the net for a triple to cut the Fullerton lead to one point.
The Hawks went on to grab their first lead of the game just past the six-minute mark after E. Arthurton pocketed a steal that led to a transition layup for Smith. Fullerton tied the game back up with a layup on the ensuing possession, but two more free throws from Smith and another layup from Lopez granted the Hawks the lead for the remainder of the contest.
Lopez and Smith handled the remaining bulk of the offense down the stretch mixed in with a pair of free throws from freshman guard Trevor Manning and one from sophomore guard Joey Longo en route to a 69-65 triumph.
The dual-threat combo of Smith and Lopez combined for 46 points. Smith was responsible for 26 of them, while Lopez bagged the remaining 22 points. Lopez's total was a career-high mark. They each corralled three rebounds, while Smith had a pair of steals and one assist.
Eli Arthurton was the next-highest scorer in a supporting role with nine points off the bench.
(Santiago College Athletics)