It was a shaky start, but a sweet finish for the Irvine Valley men's basketball team in its 2016-17 season opener on Tuesday night at home.
The Lasers came back from 17 points down to defeat Cuyamaca, 72-67.
Freshman forward Lance Coleman II was the star for IVC, finishing with 27 points and five rebounds in a game-high 34 minutes of action.
He scored 17 of those points in the second half.
Irvine Valley trailed, 38-29, at halftime and was behind, 48-31, after a layup by Cuyamaca's Eric Patten with 17:34 left in the game.
Cuyamaca started the second half on a 11-2 run.
But IVC got back in it with some solid defense, better rebounding and a flurry of three-pointers. Freshman guard Daniel Hernandez and sophomore guard Mike Turner each made a three-pointer to get IVC within 48-37.
And the Lasers brought their deficit down to single digits at 50-42 after a putback by sophomore center Lamont Tyler with 13:36 to play.
Coleman then really got going.
Two straight jumpers went in by the freshman and IVC pulled to within 50-46 with 11:21 left.
A three-pointer by sophomore guard Anthony Hernandez brought Irvine Valley to within 52-51 with 8:17 to play. It was the start of a nine-point run that put IVC up for good.
Sophomore guard Zuri Williams made two free throws with 7:51 to play to give the Lasers their first lead since the first half at 53-52.
Williams then made a layup and Coleman scored to make it a 57-52 IVC advantage with 6:21 to go.
A three-pointer by Coleman gave IVC a 60-53 lead with 5:29 left.
Cuyamaca answered with five straight points, including a jumper by James Miller to pull to 60-58.
But Coleman hit back-to-back long three-pointers - one at the 4:01 mark and another with 2:32 to play to put Irvine Valley ahead, 66-58.
The Lasers held on from there. Jon Irving got Cuyamaca to 66-64 with a layup, but Williams, Turner and freshman guard Nate Barker each hit a pair of free throws in the final minute to seal the Laser victory.
Williams added 11 points, four assists and five steals for IVC, while Barker finished with nine points and four rebounds. Turner chipped in seven points and three assists.
The Lasers shot just 36.7 percent (22 of 60) from the field for the game, but did make 11 three-pointers and were clutch at the free throw line, going 17 of 21 (81.0 percent).
Irvine Valley also turned the ball over just nine times in the game.
Cuyamaca was paced by Patten, who had 21 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Spencer Smith added 15 points and seven rebounds and Irving finished with 14 points and seven assists.
The Coyotes shot 42.4 percent (25 of 59) from the field, but were just 7 of 15 (46.7 percent) from the free throw line. Cuyamaca did out-rebound Irvine Valley, 44-35.
The Lasers play again on Nov. 11, traveling down to Southwestern in Chula Vista.