Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College men's basketball team for the sixth time this season has hit the 100 point plateau cruising to the 106-51 victory over the Beavers of Caltech Saturday evening in front of a fan base of over 300 strong.
Whittier now improves to 13-5, 5-2 in SCIAC, while Caltech drops to 5-13, 0-7 SCIAC. With this win the Purple & Gold are now in a three way tie for second place with Pomona-Pitzer and Redlands, while Claremont-M-S still stays atop the standings with a 6-1 record with their only loss coming from the hands of the Poets.
This evening Whittier welcomed back off guard Willie Mebane who had been nursing a bruised knee over the last month and even with his absence the Poets were still able to go 8-2 over their last ten games. On his return and what a return he had as he finished with a game high 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting to go with three steals.
Menez who is in second place in scoring in SCIAC finished with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, while Preer had a break out game with 18 points to go with four assists and four steals. Nathaniel Easterman who is coming off of a 23 point performance against Pomona-Pitzer again had a strong night as he finished with 15 points along with three blocks putting him atop the SCIAC standings with 21.
Freshman Jacob Porter who comes from Temecula, Calif. again hit double figures coming off the bench as he chipped in with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting to go with six boards, while at the sametime playing big minutes in the paint on both ends of the floor. Like Coach Carter said earlier in the season, he is expecting big things from Porter off the bench in the second half of the season as he continues to gain experience, which in the end will provide Whittier the depth they need in order to make a deep run in playoffs.
Another big breakout performance was senior point guard transfer Kelly Johnson who missed a double double the old fashion way as he chipped in with 13 points to along with eight assists. He continues to lead SCIAC in assists but is also atop the SCIAC standings also in steals alongside Preer.
Right from the tip Caltech knew they were in trouble as the Purple & Gold opened up the game on a 7-0 run thanks to Easterman who knocked in five straight points to go along with a big block. From here they extended their lead to 13-3 and they never looked back as they continued to apply pressure and their suffocating trap defense in the first half to take a 54-28 lead into the break.
Coming out of the intermission, they continued to play an up tempo style of play opening up the second half with a 7-0 run yet again opening their lead to 33. After an Alex Runkel jumper Whittier then used a 20-0 run to put the game out of reach leaving no doubts in anyone's mind that they belong atop the SCIAC standings as the highest powered offense. Then with just under nine minutes to play the Purple & Gold used one final 14-0 run to finish the night off cruising to the 55 point victory.
Up next for Whittier comes the Kingsmen of Cal Lutheran University on Tuesday, February 1 as the Poets travel to Thousand Oaks searching for their second straight victory. Earlier in the season Whittier rolled to a 17 point win over the Kingsmen in the friendly confines of the Graham Athletic Center in the SCIAC opener but it's no easy task to win on the road especially in this conference and especially traveling to an expected packed house at Cal Lutheran University.