GLENDALE — Despite squandering a sizable second-half lead and playing a less-than-stellar final eight minutes of the game, the Glendale Community College men’s basketball team held on to notch its fourth straight victory and placed coach Brian Beauchemin alone in fourth place on the state’s all-time win list in the process.
The Vaqueros led by 15 points in the second half before visiting Santa Monica College’s frantic comeback put them up by one point with less than a minute remaining.
Emmett Duvall’s offensive rebound and put-back with 20.3 seconds remaining resulted in Glendale’s second field goal in the final eight minutes. On Wednesday, Jalen Etienne connected on a three-pointer with less than one second remaining to lift the Vaqueros (19-4, 7-2) to a Western State Conference South Division victory. Glendale sits in second place in the conference standings.
“That’s good, it’s a sign of a good team,” said Beauchemin of the late-game heroics.
Beuchemin, who has been at the helm in Glendale since 1979, picked up his 589th career victory.
“We were out of sync,” he said of the second-half struggles. “I don’t know what happened. We just unplugged ourselves.”
Earlier in the second half, Glendale’s sophomore guard Emerson Castaneda gave the Vaqueros a 63-48 lead with his jumper. Castaneda also hit two three-pointers in the half, but the first 10 minutes of the half proved to be more favorable to Glendale than the latter 10 minutes, as Santa Monica’s Madison Higgins led a 23-7 run with 17 of his game-high 31 points.
Higgins’ basket gave the Corsairs (13-9, 2-6) a 71-70 lead with less than a minute remaining and the team’s first since 15-14 early in the contest.
It would be final points for Santa Monica on the night, as Glendale answered with a free throw from Etienne with 50 seconds on the clock to knot the score at 70 and Duvall’s game-winning basket inside came 30 seconds later. Santa Monica misfired on a three-pointer and one inside the paint came up short.
“In the first half, we didn’t have as many turnovers and in the second half we played their game and not ours,” said Castaneda, who led the team with 19 points, including five from behind the arc and seven of 12 overall. “In the end, we kept our composure and came out with a win.”
Castaneda, a St. Francis graduate, was asked about his coach’s latest accomplishment.
“At the end of practice, [assistant coach] Vigen [Jilizian] told us, and this win goes out to him,” he said. “He’s one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever played for and he deserves it.”
Beauchemin was a bit more modest and attributed the wins to a body of work, good players and good assistant coaches.
The Vaqueros received balanced scoring, with five players in double figures, led by Castaneda’s 19, Etienne’s 16, Gor Plavchyan’s 12 and 10 points apiece from Santiago Grady and Duvall, who added eight rebounds. Santa Monica, on the other hand, had two players scoring in double figures and shot just 40.9% from the field.
Etienne finished the game with a double-double, dishing out 11 assists — five coming in the first half that saw Glendale use a 10-2 run to turn a one-point deficit into a 24-17 advantage and led, 46-37, at halftime. Glendale attempted 15 more shots in the first half as opposed to the second half, while still efficient at 50% or greater in both halves.
Fortunately, the Vaqueros were able to survive the struggles down the stretch and have now won six of their last seven with three games remaining in the regular season — two coming on the road.
“It’s been a tough week,” Beauchemin said. “We’ll use the bye week on Wednesday to tighten some things up and get better.”