IMPERIAL- The Imperial Valley College Arabs crushed the hearts of San Diego Mesa College Olympians 57-56, at home in dramatic fashion Wednesday night, for their second consecutive Pacific Coast Athletic conference win of the season.
IVC struck first when Brandon Martinez picked his defensive assignment’s pocket in the back court and drove it all the way down to the cup.
On the next possession, Marquis Golden spotted Martinez and hit him on a back-door cut preceding a tip in, to take a 6-0 lead. Mesa burned an early timeout to cool down the Arabs three minutes into the opening period.
The Olympians broke the goose egg at the 16:15 mark on a driving lay-up and free throw by Sohn Walker making a 6-3 ball game.
Mesa enjoyed a 21-5 run, led by Armstrong Ojunkwu who contributed eight points, finding the bucket on a hook, slashing lay-up, mid-range pull-up, and a turn-around hook shot to put Mesa up 24-11 with seven minutes to go before half time.
Golden helped spark an IVC offensive attack when he spotted, and downed, a three ball from the right corner with 5:50 remaining in the first half.
Rick Cesena slipped through the Olympians defense and laid one in, then Golden added a free throw, Luis Vizcaino knocked down a stand-up 17-footer, Martinez netted another put-back, and Emanuelle Bradbury tossed a dime to Vizcaino to outscore Mesa by seven points in the last five minutes. IVC now down by only one possession, 25-23 at the break.
After a made free throw, Golden splashed another high arcing three-pointer for IVC, coming out of the intermission, to reclaim the lead at 26-25 early in the second half.
With five minutes left in the game Perry Cromwell made a three pointer from the right wing to break a 44 all tie, and gave the Arabs a 47-44 advantage with time winding down.
Both teams now in double bonus earned a trip to the charity stripe on any foul (after an allocated amount of team and personal fouls is surpassed any other foul after merits two free throws, regardless of the severity of the penalty).
An exchange of made and missed free-throws in the last two minutes set the stage for a 51-49 Mesa lead with 30 seconds left in the game and Arabs with the ball.
IVC passed and picked away in the backcourt as they milked the clock. With seven ticks left Golden drove it to the rack and finished strong over the massive Olympian front line to tie the game at 51-51 and force over-time.
Mesa took control at the beginning of the five-minute extra period scoring the first three points on a layup and free throw.
Golden helped the Arabs take a go-ahead 55-54 lead after sinking a jump shot from the left baseline with 50 seconds to go.
Another IVC foul put the Olympians right back on the free throw line with 25 seconds remaining where Ojunkwu’s double shots put Mesa back up 56-57.
The Arabs were unable to convert their final possession and were forced to foul again; formalities ensued with .06 seconds left on the clock and Mesa back on the free-throw line.
In basketball time .06 seconds is enough to get a shot off and .04 seconds is enough for a tip in only.
The Olympians re-situated all available rebounders to defend behind half court as a means of strategy during the free throws.
Ojunnkwu clanked one off the back iron on the first attempt and kissed the front lip of the rim on the second shot – Golden quickly snatched down the short rebound and craftily drew contact in a desperation shot attempt; the referees whistle beat the buzzer as he motioned a foul on Mesa to the score’s table putting Golden on the line for two shots and .01 seconds showing on the clock.
Golden swished both free-throws for IVC to pull off the 57-56 win the at the line in a .06 second, four-point turnaround.
“A classic game. It was a miracle that we got fouled, he was standing there and for us to get that foul was a blessing. It was a true blessing for us to win the game the way we did. I’m very proud of my guys and I’m glad the fans came out to show their support,” stated IVC’s Men’s Basketball Head Coach Andrew Robinson.