Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Men's Basketball team opened up the 2016 Purple & Gold Poet Classic Thursday evening inside of the Graham Athletic Center as they used the long ball to down La Sierra University 88-72.
The win is the second in a row for the Purple & Gold as they improve to 3-4, while La Sierra remains winless on the season at 0-14.
The Poets faced a tough Golden Eagle squad early as they trailed 8-2. But that deficit would subside quickly as Whittier would put together 13 unanswered with six of them coming from freshman Nick Potthoff (Phoenix, AZ).
This gave Whittier a 15-8 lead and they wouldn't let up as Eric Davis (Ventura, Calif.) and Jordan Lingard (DU, Australia) would combine for a 6-0 spurt midway through that increased the lead to 23-15.
La Sierra attempted to the keep the game close with Curtis Brisbane finding the back of the net on a couple layups with just under 6:30 to play and Kyle Hamilton would pull LSU within four following a pair of free throws and a layup soon after.
Louis Kurihara (Culver City, Calif.) stopped the run with a triple with 4:06 to play and then Chris Kapano (Los Alamitos, Calif.) then took over with a three-pointer and a couple free throws that extended the lead back to double digits.
Brisbane and Eduardo Gomez would add another four for the Golden Eagles on their ensuing two possessions but Davis and Kurihara would cap off the half with a free throw and three-pointer that gave WC a 42-32 lead at intermission.
A couple three-pointers swapped in the second half jump started the offense on both sides. It was a back and forth battle through the frame. La Sierra put together a 9-1 run that covered a minute that got them within six again that cut the deficit to four. But Potthoff would take over knocking down two three-pointers and a layup during a Poet push that increased the lead to 11. Over the final minute the Poets poured it on as Conner Longmire (Tarzana, Calif.) would knock down a tre and was immediately followed by free throws from Kurihara, Davis, and Rion Black-Hogins (Cupertino, Calif.) that secured the win.
Potthoff had a career game finishing with 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting and was 4-of-5 from deep. He also had seven rebounds. Kurihara drained another three triples for 15 points, eight rebounds, and five assists, while Kapano rounded out the starters in double digits with 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and five steals.
Davis, who added two Top 10 worthy dunks in the game came off the bench and added 11 points with four boards, two assists, and a steal, while Longmire chipped in with eight points.
Whittier shot 47% from the field and was 41% from deep. Despite being outrebounded 47-39, the Poets forced 21 turnovers and gained 21 points off of them, while adding 28 points in the paint.
Whittier wraps up the 2016 Purple & Gold Poet Classic tomorrow night, Friday, December 30 as they take on Linfield College beginning at 7:00pm.