A 21-game winning streak ended for the Santa Rosa Junior College men’s basketball team with a 72-64 loss in Friday’s opening game of the California Community College Athletic Association’s championship tournament in Ventura.
The fourth-seeded Bear Cubs kept their contest against defending champion and top seed San Diego City College close until the end, trailing 36-33 at halftime and tied at 56 with less than four minutes to play in the second half.
The Knights then took a 59-56 lead on a 3-point play by guard Thomas Nelson, who was fouled en route to a basket and hit the resulting free throw.
The Bear Cubs’ Sadik Sufi then scored to narrow the gap to 59-58 before San Diego broke away with a 10-point run to seal the victory.
Ryan Perez led the Bear Cubs with 16 points off the bench in just 20 minutes. He also made all four of his 3-point attempts.
Starters Sufi and Beau Keeve each had 14 points, with Sufi adding seven rebounds.
San Diego was led by Ethan Esposito’s 17 points.
The Bear Cubs broke out to a 12-5 lead after five minutes, the largest margin of the game. The contest included seven ties and 10 lead changes in the first half alone.
The loss ends Santa Rosa’s season at 25-5 overall and 16-0 in the Big 8 Conference, while San Diego advances to Saturday’s semifinal round against Fresno City College, which beat Orange Coast on Friday.
Saturday’s other semifinal game features Cerritos College against City College of San Francisco. The championship game is set for Sunday.
Santa Rosa’s perfect run in conference play this season was the first time the Bear Cubs men’s team had gone undefeated in the Big 8 since 2003.