Huskies Take Control of Vikings, Snap Two-Game Skid
by Cerwin D Haynes
As East LA Basketball play-by-play voice Dan Gudino said during tonight's broadcast, one would have to go back five years - December of 2016 - to note the last time men's basketball lost back to back games. Having dropped their last two games via nail biters against Riverside and then Citrus, ELAC was in no mood to let the Vikings of Long Beach City College hang a third-straight loss on them. Utilizing offensive execution and sound positional defense in the first half, and then letting their talent take over in the second half, ELAC would lead by as many as 29 points as they ultimately cruised to a 88-74 win to improve to 9-4 on the season.
The Huskies never trailed in this one: exchanging baskets with the host Vikings during the first four minutes of the game, a Tyrelle Hunt (12 pts, 5 rebs) jumper gave East LA an 8-6 lead at the 15:39 mark. Dezmond Washington (16 pts on 6-8 FGs) would nail two open three-pointers before and after a pair of Kameron Mayhan free throws for a 14-8 lead, and a Lorenzo March layup at the 13:08 mark brought Long Beach within two at 14-12.
ELAC would slowly surge ahead over the next eight minutes, but LBCC would again close within a bucket at the 5:42 mark. Then, the Huskies - while not yet operating in complete offensive rhythm - began playing better positional defense, routinely forcing Long Beach to take sub-optimal and contested jump shots that kept the Vikings from putting together a run of any sort. Hunt, who had one of his best floor games of the season as lead guard, would stick a baby jumper and then a layup after a Bernard Johnson Jr three-point miss to push the Huskies lead back to six. The Pack would ultimate go into halftime up seven, 36-29.
One of the hallmarks of the 2019-20 Huskies team was their ability to dial up their level of play in the second halves of games and put away the competition. While it is a trait not yet mastered by this season's edition of the team, they tapped into that tonight. A pair of Bryan Penn-Johnson (three points, four rebounds) free throws gave ELAC their first double-digit lead of the game, 39-29, within the first minute of second-half play. A bit later on at the 15:52 mark, Hunt would nail a jumper off a Cory Cofield assist to give the Husky green a 49-36 lead. LBCC's Lorenzo Marsh would hit back-to-back three-ball to bring the lead back down to seven, 49-42, at the 14:58 mark. Between Marsh and Long Beach dialing up their defense, it looked like East LA was headed for another close second half battle.
But that's where the Huskies finally said "enough is enough".
Utilizing the level of talent that initially earned them top ranking in SoCal to start the year, ELAC wrested firm control of the game with a deciding 25-6 run over the next six and a half minutes. A mix of jumpers, layups, three-pointers, and steals that lead to fast break dunks opened the green floodgates to a 74-48 lead with 8:31 left. Long Beach would then mix in a jumper along with a few free throws for their next six points, but the Huskies refused to let up. A 7-0 run powered by a JT Langston layup, a Richard Wilson three-pointer, and a Joshua Phillips jumper pushed the East LA lead to 83-54 with 4:21 left. By that point, head coach John Mosley emptied the bench and the rest was academic.
- East LA assisted on 21 of their 35 made baskets. The Huskies came into tonight's game averaging 15.5 assists and 31.1 made field goals per game.
- ELAC turned the ball over 27 times in their loss at Citrus on Wednesday. They only committed 13 tonight while forcing Long Beach into 13 turnovers of their own.
- The Huskies rang up seven out of their 11 shots from behind the arc (63.6%), by far their best three-point performance of the season.
- Reserve forward JT Langston had eight points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals off the bench. His play in the 2nd half helped to spark the deciding 25-6 run.
- 6' 11 backup forward Christian Oliver hit his third three-pointer of the season in the second half.
With 11 days off, the Huskies will have a nice Yuletide break (and some good practice time) before they trek down to San Diego for the Cuyamaca Classic starting December 28th.
After the turn of the new year, Mosley & Co will finally make their home court, ELAC campus debut against El Camino on Wednesday, January 5.