ANGWIN, Calif. – The PUC Men's Basketball team played their second of three straight home games on Thursday night against budding rival the Cal Maritime Keelhaulers. Both teams played a tough competitive game but the Pioneers came out victorious 77-71. The victory puts the Pioneers in second place (4-2), their best start in school history.
The Pioneers made their presence known early, starting the game with three straight baskets in the paint but the game would remain close through the first half that included seven ties before the midway point. The visiting Keelhaulers would pick up their scoring late in the half, but the Pioneers were able to keep them within reach and go into halftime trailing by just three.
PUC had a tough start to the second half that quickly found them in an 11 point hole. However in just two short minutes, the Pioneers were able to deflate the Keelhaulers, steal back all momentum and bring the game within two points. After free throws brought PUC within one, Noel Briones (JR/Hayward,CA) connected on a corner three to give the Pioneers their first lead since early in the first half. The Pioneers locked in defensively and connected on late-game free throws to secure their six point victory.
Briones came up big for PUC in the second half. The 6 foot guard scored 10 points and went 5-5 from the free throw line. He would finish the game with 11 total points and was joined by Devon Pinnock (JR/Harlem, NY) (11 points, 4 assists), Anthony Adams-Rule Sr. (SR/Kansas City, MO) (12 points, 7 rebounds) and Brandon Franklin (JR/Perris, CA) (12 points) in leading the Pioneers to victory.
As a team, the Pioneers forced 23 turnovers and shot 47% from the field out scoring Cal Maritime in bench points and points in the paint.
The Pioneers' chase for the number 1 spot in the conference continues Saturday night against UC Merced.