By Heather Allen
With a minute remaining in the game, APU and Cal Baptist University were tied at 69 points and it appeared that the game would go into overtime. At literally the last second, senior point guard Mike Caffese made the game winning shot with an ending score of 73 to 71 in the first round game of the GSAC tournament.
“I was wide open and I had confidence that I could make it,” Cafesse said. “I saw right when the guy rotated to Caleb [Burgess] and he swung it to me I just knew that I would shoot it automatically. Right when I was at the basket I was confident that it would go in and thought that the worst that could happen was that we would go into overtime.”
The first half was a back and forth affair as the seventh seeded Lancers attempted to shock the second seeded Cougars at home. Senior center Reggie Owens was the leading scorer in the first half with ten points, and finished the game with 24 points. Since he played throughout the entire game, how did a powerhouse like him not tire out quickly?
“I was tired but I couldn’t show it but I taking short breaks help me manage it pretty good,” Owens said.
The second half was neck-in-neck until 13:57 when Cal Baptist took a 45-46 lead, which in turn grew into an eleven point lead at 10:12. The crowd was wondering what was going on with the cougars.
“Our struggle was that we just couldn’t make shots,” Coach Justin Leslie said. “I thought we got everything we wanted because we had them [Cal Baptist] sped up and dead tired but we just couldn’t make a shot.”
Cal Baptist kept on scoring like it was nobody’s business because of their numerous free throws until the cougars began their comeback at 4:45. Cal Baptist’s lead was brought down from eleven points to four points due to the cougars taking control of the momentum. Caffese shined during crunch time by coming up with five points, one rebound, two assists, and one steal while Owens had back-to-back layups that gave the cougars a 71-69 lead with 0:41 remaining in the game.
“My last field goal was my left handed layup on the fast break,” Owens said. “When I showed strain, the guy lost the ball and I knew that [Mike] Caffese would get it. He’s everywhere so I just leapt at it and he threw back the pass to drive the layup.”
The game itself was a nail-biter. The fans literally jumped out of their seats when Caffese made that last shot. The Lancers put a huge scare in the cougars, but fortunately they just could not withstand the cougars’ strength as a team. But Coach Leslie had a different opinion on how his team played last night.
“To be perfectly honest the only thing we accomplished was winning in the last five minutes,” Coach Leslie said. “To get a win in the month of March means that you’re lucky enough to play another game.”
The Cougars will be playing in a semifinal game against Point Loma Nazarene at 5:30 P.M. on Saturday March 5th at Concordia University. Hopefully the cougars can step up their game by then.