Dream season for Pirates ends in state quarterfinal loss to Fresno

Dream season for Pirates ends in state quarterfinal loss to Fresno

VENTURA -- The Orange Coast College men's basketball team saw its awe-inspiring 2017-18 season come to an end on Friday night as the Pirates fell to Fresno City College, 96-80, in the state quarterfinals of the California Community College Athletic Association Men's Basketball State Championships, hosted by Ventura College.

The Pirates (22-8), champions of the Orange Empire Conference the No. 3 seed out of Southern California, saw its 13-game win streak stopped by the relentless pressure of the Rams (28-4). Fresno, the No. 2 seed out of Northern California, smothered the Pirates on both sides of the ball, using a constant trap press on both sides of the ball on every Coast possession, using a 12-man rotation that constantly subbed out, giving FCC fresh players on the floor at all times. 

The nonstop pressure finally wore down the Pirates, who did well in minimizing turnovers (18), but seemed to run out of gas in the final minutes of both halves because of the constant harassment put on them by the Rams. 

Freshman standout Joshua Davis had a monster night with 27 points and eight rebounds, but early foul trouble on the 6-foot-6 center put the Pirates in a bind in the later stages of the first half.

Davis' third foul of the game occurred with OCC leading the Rams, 25-23, with 7:13 remaining in the first half and with their post presence on the bench, Fresno took over and finished off the half outscoring the Pirates, 24-11, to grab a 47-36 lead.

Coast kept it close against the Central Valley Conference champions, using a 21-14 run over the first six minutes of the second half to trim the deficit to 61-57.

But that would be as close as OCC would get to Fresno the remainder of the game as a 18-5 run over the next six minutes allowed the Rams to pull away from the Pirates for good. 

Lloyd Wright added 19 points and five rebounds for the Pirates, while Malik Skillern came off the bench and added 14 points and a pair of steals in 16 minutes of work. Kupaa Harrison wrapped up his Coast career with a steady seven points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals.

For the Rams, Tyus Millhollin and Gerogie Dancer each had 16 points, while Drew Cobb added 15, Jess Spivey tossed in 13 and Tommy Nuno scored 12. 

While the loss ends OCC's season, the memories from the 2017-18 Pirates will not be forgotten anytime soon.

  • After an 8-19 season a year ago (including 1-11 in the Orange Empire Conference), the Pirates finished 22-8 (11-1 in the OEC). The 14-game improvement this year was the second-best in school history, topped only by the 1966-67 team that went 24-8 after going just 6-21 the year before.
  • After a 2-5 start, Coast finished the season with 20 wins over its final 23 games. Only the 1956-57 Pirates finished their season with a better record, winning 21-of-24.
  • The Pirates won their first conference championship and advanced to the State Elite Eight for the first time since 1978-79.
  • OCC's 13-game win streak was the longest such streak for the program since the 1966-67 season.