Irvine Valley's men's basketball team started strong and held on in the end to come away with a 74-71 win over Southwestern in its 2019-20 season opener Tuesday night at home.
Both teams were missing a couple of top players, but the Lasers still picked up a solid victory over a Jaguar squad that had a record of 25-5 overall, won a conference title and made the playoff regional final last season.
Irvine Valley was paced by sophomore forward Austin Carter, who finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and two steals.
Three more IVC players scored in double figures.
Freshman guard Devin Owens had 12 points and three assists, sophomore guard Sean Murphy also added 12 points and hit all three of his three-pointers and sophomore forward Bryce Roczey chipped in 10 points for the Lasers.
Freshman post player Colby Waite gave IVC a big lift with six points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Southwestern got 15 points from Isaiah Camon, 11 points from Roman Wright, 10 points and five rebounds from Nathaniel Pearson and nine points from Zachary Reiter.
The game was sloppy at times with the two teams combining for 47 fouls, 54 free throw attempts and 43 turnovers.
Irvine Valley trailed, 34-31, at the half after starting the game hot. The Lasers held Southwestern without a point for the first five minutes and they led, 18-8, with 9:38 left in the half after freshman guard JT Robinson knocked down a long three-pointer as the shot clock expired.
But Southwestern fought back and took its first lead of the game at 24-21 on a three-pointer by Roman Wright with 4:52 left in the first half.
The Jaguars took a 34-26 lead on a layup by Israel Seales with 1:05 remaining.
IVC closed out the first half on a 5-0 run to stay close. Murphy hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it 34-31.
Irvine Valley retook the lead at 37-36 on a pair of Carter free throws three minutes into the half. And it was back and forth from there until IVC went on a 6-0 run capped by three-point play by Waite with 5:48 to play.
The basket and free throw gave Irvine Valley a 63-56 lead.
A three-pointer by Devin Owens made it a 11-2 run and put the Lasers ahead, 68-58, with 5:11 left.
But the game still went down to the wire. Turnovers by IVC in the final minute gave Southwestern a chance.
A layup by Diego Edwards brought Southwestern to within 74-69 with 15 seconds left and after an IVC turnover, Camon scored to bring the Jaguars within 74-71 with seven seconds remaining.
Another turnover by IVC gave Southwestern one more chance.
But Pearson's three-pointer was off the mark at the buzzer and the Lasers survived.
Irvine Valley plays again on Friday at home, taking on Cuyamaca at 5 p.m.