SAN DIEGO — Brandon Newman stripped the ball from San Diego Mesa’s Darren Hugie at midcourt and headed for a high-flying layup in the opening minute of the second half Friday. Hugie caught up to the Imperial Valley College guard at his peak and sent him crashing hard to the floor under the basket. Newman didn’t move.
Newman had landed on his injured right shoulder, the one with torn tendons in it.
Newman sat out five minutes, then returned. He played with guts, toughness and determination and made the game-changing play, a steal and a layup, that sparked Imperial Valley to a 56-50 victory in a Pacific Coast Athletic Association game on the Olympians’ court.
San Diego Mesa’s Travon Jones tied the game with a 15-foot jumper at 49-49 with 1 minute, 57 seconds left.
IVC’s Darius Singletary missed a 3-pointer. The 5-foot-11 Newman, an outstanding jumper, tried to rebound, but was only able to tip the ball out and the Olympians grabbed the loose ball.
Newman intercepted a pass along the sideline near midcourt and scored the go-ahead basket on a layup with 1:10 remaining.
“I was kind of baiting him (the passer),” Newman explained. “I was out front (of the other Mesa player) and when he threw it, I came back.”
On Mesa’s next possession, Ryan Ena stole the ball on the dribble and was fouled. The 6-foot-6 freshman made two free throws for a 53-49 lad with 56 seconds to play.
Hugie, guarded closely by Ena, missed a jump shot and Newman rebounded. The Olympians fouled Newman and he put two free throws in the net with 32 seconds left for a 55-49 lead that put the game out of reach.
Newman hurt shooting those free throws.
“Bad,” he said. “Painful.’
IVC (19-6, 11-3 PCAC) clinched at least second place in the conference with two games to play. The victory should put the Arabs, ranked 12th in SoCal, into the state post-season playoffs and they still have a chance at sharing the championship with San Diego City. The Knights were 12-1 going into Friday’s game with Southwestern and play at IVC next Wednesday. The Arabs complete the regular season next Friday at Palomar.
“I would think this (win) solidifies us for the state playoffs,” IVC coach Tyson Aye said.
IVC’s triumph over the Olympians (6-17, 3-11 PCAC) made it 2-2 and the first on the road since center Josue Mulamba was dismissed from the team. It should be a huge confidence booster for the Arabs.
IVC trailed only once Friday, at 36-34 with 11:41 to play.
The Arabs went into a man-to-man defense the rest of the game, playing more physical and with a boost of intensity.
“We came together for the last 10 minutes and executed offensively and defensively,” Newman said.
“Our attitude was not to let them score,” Aye said. “We had a dominant attitude.”
The Arabs had a big lift from guard Travis Alexander, who broke out of a slump to score 16 points. Alexander was 4-of-5 on 3-pointers, made his only 2-point field goal attempt and was 2-of-2 at the free throw line.
“I knew Newman was hurting and had to step up,” Alexander said. “I was trying to get back to where I was before the slump.”
Newman scored 15, Ena had nine points, Melvin Cook seven, Tyler Turner five and Singletary four.