Dons Defeat rival West Valley in close game2 min read

Men’s team holds on to win despite late surge by Vikings

Sophomore+forward+Shaquille+Gilbert+%285%29+rushes+forward+while+controlling+the+ball+for+the+Dons.

Sophomore forward Shaquille Gilbert (5) rushes forward while controlling the ball for the Dons.

Rajvir Kaur

The De Anza College Dons men’s basketball team opened its conference schedule with a 60-55 win over longtime rival, the West Valley College Vikings, on Wednesday Jan. 8.

West Valley was the first to put a score on the board, but the Dons pulled ahead on a 3-pointer by freshman point guard Kyle Conner and a bucket by teammate Nate Viera.

Unrelenting, the Dons stacked points on the board, executing big plays and strengthening their lead.

Nearing the end of first half, Conner lead the charge, scoring five straight points and putting the Dons ahead 28-17.

Viera once again followed Conner, hitting another 3-pointer and with 2:22 left in the first half, the Dons led 31-17.

West Valley tried to come back, with sophomore guard Jordin Nordlum scoring the last three points of the half for the Vikings.

Going into halftime, the Dons stretched the lead to 32-20 on a free throw by freshman point guard DJ Rodriguez.

West Valley scored first to open the second half, but Rodriguez followed with a 3-point shot of his own and Viera added another bucket.

The Vikings came back strong, at one point scoring nine straight points and narrowing De Anza’s lead to 41-40.

The Dons made two free throws, but Vikings’ freshman forward Larenzo Graham swished in a 3-pointer that tied the game at 43 apiece.

Not letting up, the Vikings scored another three and gained their first lead of the night 46-43.

But the Vikings’ rhythm on the court ran out as players started committing fouls.

Foul after foul allowed Pasquini, Rodriguez, Viera and sophomore guard Keian Taylor to put up five free throws and retake the lead 48-46.

Gaining back their momentum, the Dons made sure they stayed ahead until the end.

Sophomore forward Alex Bull made a 3-pointer and Viera put in a bucket to give the Dons a 55-51 lead going into the last minute of the game.

With the Vikings trying to retake the lead and the Dons trying to maintain it, both teams pressured themselves into committing fouls.

The Dons committed the first foul, allowing the Vikings to make two free throws, making the score 55-53 with 34.5 seconds left on the clock.

More fouls caused the last minute to drag on as players and viewers watched on to see what would happen next.

The Dons committed yet another foul and allowed Vikings’ sophomore guard Malek Kanaan to make a free throw, marking the scoreboard 58-55 with 2.7 seconds left on the clock.

Conner sealed the game with two final free throws giving the Dons their first conference win 60-55.

“It was what I expected,” said Jason Damjanovic, head coach of men’s basketball. “I told the guys West Valley was going to keep coming and that we [needed] to keep defending, keep scoring … we did just enough to win.”

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