Live by the offense. Die by the defense.
College of the Canyons scores the most points in the 10-team Western State Conference and, except for Bakersfield, allows the most.
In three straight WSC games, Canyons put big numbers on the board. The Cougars' only problem was that the opposition put up bigger numbers.
So, against a smaller Santa Monica team Saturday, Canyons Coach Lee Smelser went to his big men to do big things to get the Cougars out of a big slump.
Center Mitch McMullen, a 6-10 sophomore transfer from Point Loma Nazarene, scored a game-high 23 points and forward Anthony Hines, a 6-8 all-conference sophomore, scored 20 as the Cougars won their first conference game, 89-84, at Santa Monica.
"There's nobody in the conference that can guard Mitch and Anthony," Smelser said. "They take up so much space inside that it tires the other team out just trying to guard them."
Both Hines and McMullen rank among the top 10 scorers in the conference. Including forward Ron Stapp's 18, the Canyons front line accounted for 61 points.
Canyons' win came just two days after Santa Monica (2-2) pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season, a 90-84 win over Glendale, which was ranked fourth in the state.
The WSC race continues to be a see-saw battle with the role of giant-killer being played by a different team each week. Glendale had beaten Canyons twice. And now, Canyons has beaten Santa Monica.
Canyons out-rebounded Santa Monica, 44-39. Hines, who had 11 rebounds, is the conference's leading rebounder with a 13.6 average. McMullen, who is second with an average of 9.3, had a game-high 15.
Santa Monica, behind the shooting of freshman forward Michael Courtney (18 points) and sophomore Derrick Gathers (17), took a 45-44 halftime lead. "Santa Monica has a lot of great athletes," Smelser said. "Courtney and Gathers are two of the best athletes you'll find anywhere in Southern California. But when you try to defend against our front line, it can be like trying to defend against a brick wall."