By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
The Cougars had four players score in double figures and shot a combined 48.2 percent from the field, but could not hold off the Ventura Pirates in an 86-81 loss on Friday in the Cougar Cage.
Canyons (9-11) opened up an early 15-3 advantage over the Pirates in the game’s opening five minutes behind six quick points from forward Anthony Simone. The sophomore finished the first half with a team-high 10 points.
Zach Phipps and Leonard Wilson both contributed eight points in the opening period to help get Canyons off to its fast start.
The Pirates (9-9) might have been slow to start, but quickly found their rhythm in battling back to cut into the Canyons advantage.
COC still held a 10-point lead with 7:20 to go in the game, but would ultimately head into the halftime locker room trailing 42-37.
The Ventura comeback effort was largely spurred by the Pirates’ bench, which poured in 25 points in the first half. By comparison, Canyons reserves scored just eight bench points in the first half.
Jude Agbasi buried a three-pointer to pull Canyons to within a bucket at 45-43 and Zach Phipps followed suite with a long ball of his own to help the Cougars retake the lead at 46-45.
Another three-pointer from Agbassi and a pair of free throws from Leonard Wilson pushed the advantage to 51-47.
The two teams battled back and forth the rest of the way, trading the lead multiple times before Ventura surged ahead at 70-68 on a pair of free throws and never looked back, holding on for an 86-81 final score.
The Cougars had a shot to tie up the game with three seconds remaining in the contest, but turned the ball over before crossing mid-court.
Agbasi led the Cougars with 26 points after going 8-of-14 from the field and 3-of-6 from downtown. He also added five assists and three steals in the game. Phipps finished with 18 points and five rebounds, while Leonard led the reserves with 14 points.
Here’s the box score.
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— Top photo by Jacob Velarde/COC Sports Information. For more game photos, click here.