Hancock College's guys were firmly in control of this basketball game against one-win Santa Barbara City College. Until they weren't.
However, after seeing most of the 37-20 lead they had built up over the first 16 minutes disappear, the Bulldogs finally salted away a 68-56 win over the Vaqueros in a Western State Conference North Division game at Hancock's Joe White Memorial Gymnasium Saturday.
The Bulldogs (20-8, 7-1) remained in at least a tie for first place, pending the Ventura College result, with two games left in the regular season. The Vaqueros are 1-20, 0-8.
As they were building their big lead, the Bulldogs were the ones making the extra pass, getting near the rim consistently for scores and getting to rebounds first.
As the Vaqueros were cutting their deficit to 54-51 at the 6:17 mark of the second half, they were the ones who were making the extra pass, getting near the rim consistently for scores and getting to rebounds first. Or they were knocking rebounds away from the Bulldogs after the Bulldogs had them first.
"We got a little complacent, a little impatient," after getting that big lead, said Hancock coach Tyson Aye.
"Santa Barbara was executing very well." Guard/Forward Ryan Smith helped quarterback the Vaqueros' offense as they drew close as the second half went along.
However, the Bulldogs did enough late to staunch the Vaqueros' momentum, which SBCC built on after ending the first half on a 7-0 run to cut their halftime deficit to 37-27, and eventually grab the win.
Devin Davis got in the lane and and made a layup to stretch the Hancock lead to 56-51 with 6:05 left, and the Vaqueros couldn't come any closer.
The Bulldogs scored on their last four possessions. The Vaqueros came up empty on their last four.
Hancock shot a lot of free throws after Davis scored at the 6:05 mark of the second half, and the Bulldogs, though they sank just six of 11 of those, made enough of them to help put away the win.
"We got a little complacent," and the Vaqueros made a run, said Hancock point guard Shane Carney.
"We got away from playing our game. We just need to play our game against these teams, and we'll have good second halfs."
The outside-inside combination of Carney and Spirit Ricks helped the Bulldogs win. Carney hit five of his eight 3-point shots, went 7-for-11 from the floor overall and finished with a game high 22 points.
Ricks, with 16 points and 11 rebounds, finished with a double-double. Working his way inside a lot, Ricks, like Carney, finished seven-for-11 from the field.
The Bulldogs making the extra pass to Ricks, who was positioned near the rim for an easy score, was something they did plenty of in the first half and not much of in the second.
However, Davis found Ricks inside for a layup at the 2:54 mark, Ricks scored to make it 62-53 and the Bulldogs were on their way.
Smith led the Vaqueros with 14 points. He and Lompoc High School graduate Drayten Howell both pulled down seven rebounds for SBCC. Howell scored 10 points. Teammate Donald Grant scofed 12.
The Vaqueros' Donald Grant and Francisco Gutierrez fouled out.
Hancock will close its regular season with WSC North games at Cuesta at 7 p.m. Wednesday night and at home against Oxnard at 5 p.m. next Saturday.
Like Carney, Ricks was 7-for-11 from the floor. Carney made went five-for-seven on 3's in the first half en route to scoring 15 points then.
Hancock 63, Santa Barbara City College 53
Grace Rosa scored 21 points, and the Bulldogs (13-11, 5-3) beat the Vaqueros (12-12, 4-4) in a Western State Conference North Division game in the first half a women's-men's doubleheader at Joe White Memorial Gym.
The Bulldogs were without their third-leading scorer on the year, Karly Beyers.
"She sprained her ankle Wednesday," in a conference loss at Moorpark, said Hancock coach Cary Nerelli. "She might be out for the (rest of) the year.
"This was a gutty win by our kids. We were without Calley Pruett (one of our regulars), too. She was out with a stomach virus. Brianna Rubalcaba and Sidney Aguilera, two of our reserves, did a fantastic job."
Rubalcaba scored 10 points for the Bulldogs, on five-for-10 shooting from the field. Hancock point guard Taylor Lee-Hammer put in 18 points for Hancock, which went into the game tied with Moorpark for second place.
SBCC's Aaliyah Pauling tied Rosa, who was the leading rebounder with nine rebounds, for game high scoring honors. Pauling tossed in 21 points. Meagan Moore added 11 for SBCC.
Hancock was clinging to a 59-53 lead with 1:25 left. Rosa then put in a follow shot and Lee-Hammer made two fee throws as the Bulldogs tucked away the win.
Hancock will close its regular season with conference games at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Cuesta and at home against Oxnard at 3 p.m. next Saturday.