Hart Gymnasium hasn’t been a safe place for the Irvine Valley men’s basketball team so far in Orange Empire Conference play.
The Lasers lost their third game at home in conference, falling to Fullerton, 78-76, in double overtime Wednesday night.
It was the team’s second double-overtime loss at home in conference. IVC also fell to Saddleback, 81-78, in two overtimes on Jan. 11. Irvine Valley fell into fourth place in conference with the loss and saw its record slip to 16-6 overall and 3-3 in conference.
Fullerton moved into a tie for second in conference with Riverside and improved its record to 7-12 overall and 4-2 in conference.
Sophomore point guard Kalob Hatcher was the only IVC player in double figures with 17 points. He added seven assists. Sophomore center Austin Loeb chipped in nine points and 10 rebounds for the Lasers.
Fullerton had four players in double figures, led by Kunnu Shofu with 23 points. Included in that were three big dunks. He added seven rebounds and four steals. Gregory Bewernick had 17 points, six rebounds and six assists, Chris Nelson added 12 points and seven rebounds and Isiah Johnson contributed 11 points, six rebounds and four steals for Fullerton.
IVC shot just 39.4 percent (26 of 66) from the field for the game and a dismal 11.8 percent (2 of 17) from three-point range. The Lasers also committed 19 turnovers to 13 for Fullerton.
Fullerton struggled shooting too at 37.1 percent (26 of 70) from the field and 14.3 percent (3 of 21) from three-point range. Fullerton also hurt itself from the free throw line, making just 23 of 37 attempts (62.2 percent).
Fullerton was good at the line in the overtime periods, going 11 of 14. IVC led, 58-51 with 2:08 to play in regulation after two free throws by sophomore forward Chris Taylor.
But the Lasers got out-scored, 10-3, the rest of the way in regulation by the Hornets. And Bewernick tied the game at 61-61 on a three-pointer with 13 seconds left.
Irvine Valley sophomore guard Ramon Mejia and Hatcher missed three-pointers in the final five seconds.
Neither team led by more than two points in the first overtime. Fullerton's Shofu made a lay-up with 24 seconds to play to tie it at 68-68.
Freshman forward Zach Mills was off the mark with a shot with five seconds remaining for IVC and the game went to double overtime. Fullerton led all the way in double overtime.
A steal and then a jumper by Nelson gave the Hornets the lead for good at 70-68 with 4:28 left. Irvine Valley trailed, 74-72, and had the ball with 15 seconds left, but a turnover on an inbounds play cost the Lasers.
Nelson and Bewernick each made two free throws in the final 10 seconds to seal the win.
IVC has a bye on Friday and hosts Santa Ana next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. It is homecoming night.