The Cuesta College men’s basketball team won the consolation championship at the Grossmont Tournament, beating Santa Barbara City College 71-68 on Sunday.
The Cougars (8-4) rallied from a 15-point deficit with eight minutes to play for the win. Cuesta took the lead with less than a minute to play, and Benat Hevia made two free throws late for a three-point lead before the Cougars blocked Santa Barbara’s last-ditch shot at the end.
“It’s kind of an ugly game for us, actually,” coach Rusty Blair said. “I’m very happy that we won that game, becuase it was going the wrong way.”
Karem Ozel led Cuesta with 19 points, all in the first half, while Roberto Mantovani had 17 points and 13 rebounds. Evgeniy Moiseev came off the bench to score 11 points, all in the rally during the final 10 minutes.
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Mantovani, who had a double-double in all three games of the tournament, was named to the all-tournament team.
Santa Barbara made eight of its first nine 3-pointers and shot 10 of 19 from 3-point range for the game, while the Cougars struggled from outside, shooting 8 of 28 from long range.
“I gotta give our guys credit for battling back from huge deficit,” Blair said.
Cuesta outrebounded Santa Barbara 39-28 and had a three-point advantage on second-chance points.
Robert Hutchins led Santa Barbara (2-6) with 20 points.
Cuesta plays next Dec. 16 at the Modesto Tournament, opening with Lassen at 8 p.m.