Glendora, CA - It's said that the best teams are the ones who can pick themselves off the floor and regroup no matter the situation. Though it's early, through five games, the Citrus College Men's Basketball team has proven to be one of those squads. The Owls displayed that toughness again on Friday night when they defeated #24 Chaffey College 77-74 inside the Owls' Nest. It's their third win over a CCCMBCA Pre-Season State Top 25 team in their first five games.
Things got off to a rough start for Citrus on the night, as the Panthers used a 12-2 run midway through the first half to break open a 10-10 game to take a 22-12 lead with 11:46 to go. The Panthers would keep the pressure on the Owls opening up a game high 14-point lead on Citrus after a transition layup by Chaffey made it 34-20 with 7:31 to play. While it was never necessarily pretty, the Owls kept at it, outscoring Chaffey 17-10 in the final third of the half, and went into the break down 37-44.
In the second half, Citrus began to finally regain form, opening the second frame with a 13-8 run, that saw the Owls pull to within a pair of points after a triple by sophomore Tobin Kund made it 50-52 with 16:30 to go. Chaffey would keep Citrus at arms length over the next several minutes until back-to-back jumpers by sophomore Toby Okwuokei gave Citrus a 59-58 lead with 10:22 to go, their first lead since the 16:25 mark in the first half.
Over the next four minutes, the lead would change hands five times, with Chaffey regaining a stranglehold of things with just over six minutes to go. Citrus would tie the game back up when a pair of free-throws by freshman Leonard Turner made it 69 all. The Panthers would pull back in front on a three ball and a jumper in the paint, sandwiched by a score by sophomore James Williams, to give Chaffey a 74-71 advantage with 1:10 to go.
That's when Turner made his mark on the game. After missing a jumper on Citrus' next possession, Turner gathered his own rebound and went straight back up and put the ball through the hoop to make it 73-74. Citrus would force a miss on Chaffey's next possession, with Okwuokei gathering the rebound.
Okwuokei would get fouled on his way to the basket, but missed the opening free-throw on a 1-and-1 opportunity. Luckily for Citrus, Turner struck again, coming up with another offensive board and score to put Citrus back in front 75-74. After Citrus got another stop on the defensive end, Okwuokie iced the game with a pair of free-throws with just over four seconds to go.
In the win, Turner scored a team high 14 points reeling in six boards, three on the offensive glass. Sophomore Tyree Winborn added 14 points off the bench, while sophomores Kendal Frey and Williams added 12 points a piece. Williams also contributed a team high eight rebounds. Rounding out the superlatives was Okwuoakie who had 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists.
The Owls will be back in action on Saturday night when they host Pre-Season State #2 San Diego City College at 7:00 PM. The game will be broadcast live on CitrusOwls.com.