Jason Richardson makes the game's deciding bucket in the final seconds.
Jason Richardson makes the game's deciding bucket in the final seconds.

The #11 Hornets welcomed #13 Copper Mountain to the Hornets Nest for the first time on Wednesday night and pulled off a big conference-win over the Fighting Cati 74-72. 

Heading into the game, there was a 3-way tie for first place in the Orange Empire Conference between Copper Mountain, Fullerton, and Saddleback. Now, the Hornets and Orange Coast College are tied with Saddleback and just a game off (3-1). FC must fight through some stiff competition ahead this season in order win another OEC title.

Fullerton is now 15-5 overall and 4-1 in conference, while Copper Mountain bounces down to 16-6 and 3-2 in the OEC.

Both teams came out exchanging shots. Midway through the 14-minute mark, the score was tied 11-11. The skilled Fighting Cati got hot going on a big 13-2 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 24-13 at 10 minutes.

The Hornets shook off CMC's run and made a strong push of their own grabbing the lead back at 36-33 by halftime.

Fullerton extended their lead in the second half with an 8-point lead (49-41) at 13:51. FC's comforting lead would not last long at Copper Mountain hit their shots not only climbing back into it but also taking a 72-66 lead by the 3-minute mark.

A Ronne Readus lay-in and a three-pointer by Nigel Carter got the Hornets within a point (72-71) with 1:33 left.

The game's deciding shot came with 33 seconds left in regulation on a slashing layup by Jason Richardson giving Fullerton the 73-72 edge. Carter split a his free throws to ice the game, and on CMC's final chance to score they turned the ball over allowing FC to hold on for the win.

Jason Richardson put the team on his back having a game-high 27 points with 7 rebounds and 8 assists. Rodrick McCobb dropped in 16 points with 8 rebounds and Nigel Carter had 10 points. Ronne Readus and Vaj Rice both contributed 7 points.

Up Next: The Hornets (15-5 overall, 4-1 OEC) will hit the road on Friday, January 19th at another OEC newcomer in Santiago Canyon College. Tipoff is at 5:00 pm.

*Photos by Phil Thurman