The task appeared so difficult for the Santa Monica College men’s basketball team against LA Southwest on Tuesday night, November 20, that Coach Jesse Teplitsky said just before the tip-off “we’ll have to play our best to beat them.”
Southwest arrived in Corsair Pavilion with a 4-1 record, and in warm-ups their size and athletic ability was obvious.
And when Southwest began the game by taking a 12-4 lead it didn’t look any better for SMC.
But the Corsairs began clicking, raced to a 40-28 lead, and went on to an 80-67 non-conference victory.
“As soon as we broke their press we had a much better chance,” said Corsair guard Noah Gottlieb, who scored 21 points and had eight assists.
Gottlieb handled the ball more than he had in earlier games because point guard Chris Blackwood didn’t play due to shin splints.
The win improved SMC’s record to 6-2. A few days earlier, the Corsairs had won the consolation bracket championship at the Irvine Valley Tournament with a 69-56 victory over Canyons as Gottlieb scored 17 points and guard Avery Martin had 16. Gottlieb was then named to the all-tournament team.
When SMC came back in the first half against Southwest, Gottlieb made a trio of three-point shots and forward Kevan Cross made another. The Corsairs’ first lead was 28-27 and they kept extending it.
SMC’s fast start in the season is a tribute to the players’ determination and Teplitzky’s effort since accepting his first head coaching job after spending nine years as an assistant at various schools.
Among his many projects was to meet with the area’s high school coaches and form relationships.
“Its obvious that nobody is going to outwork him,” said Tony Depa of St. Monica.
SMC will play another home game Friday night, November 30, against Rio Hondo before going to the Rio Hondo and Saddleback Tournaments.