The Santa Monica College mens’ basketball team won five of its first six games, and a perception has been growing this could be the Corsairs’ best team since Hall Of Fame coach John McMullen retired five years ago.
However, the Corsairs lost a home non-conference game to Santa Ana College Thursday night, 58-50.
It could be said SMC was looking ahead to a rematch next week with Irvine Valley, the only team that had defeated them.
It looked like a night for experimenting when Coach Jerome Jenkins substituted freely in the first half, employing several players who hadn’t even gotten into the previous week’s win over LA Southwest.
Jenkins used four different point guards in the first 10 minutes. Later, forward Solomon Hainna, who left the Crossrosds team midway through last season and then attended Palisades, played significant minutes. Hainna also hadn’t played against Southwest.
Previously dominant 6-10 center Bryant Crowder was out for long stretches and scored only 12 points.
In contrast to the Southwest game, which was a 107-95 shootout, this was a game when both teams used zone defenses and SMC didn’t do much outside shooting.
With the Santa Ana coaches constantly encouraging their players to protect the inside and respect the SMC guards more for their driving ability than outside marksmanship, the Corsairs never solved the problem.
The game was tied at 11 and then at 17 before the visitors pulled away to a 42-33 lead early in the second half. SMC pulled within four points twice and two points once but couldn’t break through.
The game may have showed Western State Conference coaches what might succeed against an SMC team that has good size and depth.
It was SMC’s last home appearance for a month. The team will be playing in tournaments, the customary December schedule for community college teams.