SANTA ANA, Calif. – In its 2019-20 season opener against Chaffey College, the Santa Ana College men's basketball team saw a halftime lead slip away in the second half, leading to a 75-69 loss in the first game of the 2019 Dana Pagett Tipoff Tournament.
The Dons went toe to toe with a Panther team that posted a record of 23-8 during the 2018-19 season.
About 16 minutes into the game, the two teams were locked at 29 a piece before Santa Ana went on a 6-1 run, ending the half with a 35-30 lead. Ramon Lopez led all scorers with 12 points on 4-7 shooting in the first 20 minutes.
The second half was a different story as the Dons just tried to hold on to their slim lead down the stretch. At the 12:46 mark, Santa Ana held its biggest lead of the game after Lopez nailed a three to give his team a 53-44 cushion.
But Chaffey would work their way back, knocking down a few shots and pounding the glass until tying the game at 57-57.
The teams would exchange blows after that, as there were five lead changes in the last eight minutes.
Chaffey finally took the lead for good at 3:26 on a Kristian Curl free throw to make it a 68-65 game. Santa Ana cut the lead to one after a layup from Jalani Horn on the next possession but that was as close as they got, giving the Panthers their first win of the year.
Lopez finished with a game high 26 points with seven threes, picking up right where he left off last season. Horn got off to a slow start, going 2-10 in the first half but refocused to post a 13 point night to go with eight rebounds.
NEXT UP: Santa Ana will have a chance to get their first win in season in day two of the 2019 Dana Pagett Tipoff Tournament as they host Long Beach City on Friday at 5:30 p.m. The LBCC Vikings fell to Santiago Canyon 86-83 in the night cap on Thursday.