A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

SRJC Men’s Basketball holds onto top seed in conference with blowout win over Cosumnes River College

Sam Guzman
SRJC forward Justin Smith meets another CRC player at the rim as they fight over the ball at Haehl Pavillion on Feb. 6, 2024

First-half dominance powered the Santa Rosa Junior College Bear Cubs past the Cosumnes River College Hawks 86-71 in the Haehl Pavilion on Feb. 6. 

Despite letting go of the rope a bit late in the game, the Bear Cubs controlled the contest from the tip-off. A barrage of 3-pointers early in the game got the Bear Cubs out to an early lead and from there they did not look back. 

Starting guard Andrew Pengel would contribute 11 of the team’s first 27 points, including going 3-4 from behind the arc before going down with an apparent ankle injury. Pengel would return later in the game but wasn’t able to recapture some of his hot shooting early. 

The Bear Cubs had a clear advantage in size as their starting forward Justin Smith used that to his advantage, leading his team with 23 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. 

Another forward, Stephen Ransom, usually a starter, came off the bench to great effect in this game. His size and athleticism helped provide excellent rim protection and he controlled the defensive glass on his way to an impressive statline of 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. 

“He’s been really improving throughout the year and he’s playing really well,” said SRJC head coach Craig McMillan. “Defensively, rebounding, scoring, he’s doing everything for us.”

At the end of the first half, the Bear Cubs led by a score of 48-19 and found most of their success from three and right at the rim. SRJC started attacking the rim more frequently to close the first period and did more of the same in the second.

CRC came out of the halftime break in a full-court press and forced the issue more on both ends of the floor. This increased aggression led to the Hawks scoring 33 more points than they did in the previous half but also allowed SRJC forward Justin Smith to do most of his damage. 

“They were up pressuring us a lot,” Smith said. “I’m generally pretty calm under pressure so I just took the opportunities to drive and I got to the basket.” 

When asked if he intentionally banked in his lone 3-pointer from the top of the key, he said, “Oh I got so lucky,” and laughed it off. 

In the later stages of the game, Cosumnes River College starting guard Isaiah Griffin attacked the basket at will. This helped the Hawks cut the lead down to 13, but that was as close as they’d get as the Bear Cubs stayed calm and maintained their double-digit lead throughout the second half. 

Coach McMillan wasn’t impressed with the Bear Cubs second-half performance but said, “I thought we played about as well as we could have played in that first half.” 

McMillan also said the team expects starting point guard and leading scorer Chris Holley to return for next Tuesday’s game as he’s still working his way back from a hamstring injury. 

Smith was excited to have his team’s leader coming back. “It’s gonna be phenomenal. He’s a very powerful asset for our team, and it’s gonna be great to have him back.”

The Bear Cubs traveled to American River College on Tuesday, Feb. 13 to take on the Beavers as they look to hold onto the top seed in the conference through the end of the regular season.


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About the Contributors
Cameron Romanik
Cameron Romanik, Sports Editor
Cameron Romanik (he/him) is in his third semester at SRJC and his second at The Oak Leaf. He's very knowledgeable about sports, and loves to share his opinions and insight. He also is often focused on music and film, and stays up to date with what's popular and successful in those fields.
Sam Guzman
Sam Guzman, Editor
Sam Guzman is in his 2nd semester at the Oak Leaf, and is currently working towards transferring to San Francisco State to major in journalism next Fall.

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