It looked like it was going to be an easy win for the Irvine Valley men's basketball team. But it didn't end that way.
The Lasers nearly squandered a 19-point second half lead before holding on for a 54-50 win over Riverside in a key Orange Empire Conference game at Cal Baptist University on Friday night.
The win moved Irvine Valley (20-6, 7-3) into a tie for second place with Riverside (13-9, 7-3) in the conference standings.
Both teams trail Saddleback by a game for first place. Riverside is the two-time defending conference champion.
Irvine Valley, which is ranked No. 17 in the state, has two games remaining in the regular season.
It hosts Cypress on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and plays at Fullerton on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Sophomore guard Ramon Mejia led all scorers in the game on Friday, finishing with 18 points. He was the only Laser in double figures.
Sophomore center Austin Loeb added eight points and eight rebounds and freshman forward Christian Scott added six points for IVC.
Irvine Valley, which led 28-26 at halftime, went on a 19-2 run, to take a 47-28 lead with 11:34 remaining.
However, Riverside countered, pulling within two at 52-50 with 13 seconds remaining on a Mason Biddle lay-up. Irvine Valley got a Michael Bolden dunk with nine seconds left to seal the victory. Biddle had 12 points for Riverside, which missed 12 free throws in the contest.
Irvine Valley out-rebounded Riverside, 35-27.