Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Men's Basketball team earned their first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) victory Thursday night as they held off Occidental College 79-75 inside of the Graham Athletic Center.
Eric Davis (Ventura, Calif.) was on fire early as he helped lead a Poet offensive attack midway through the first half adding eight of eleven points, which included a triple and a three-point play the old fashion way.
He spearheaded an 11-2 run with a three pointer coming from Conner Longmire (Tarzana, Calif.) and layups from Richard Kaye (Irvine, Calif.), Anthony Martinez (Cerritos, Calif.), and Jacob Aruta (Stockton, Calif.).
Longmire added a three-pointer from long distance soon after that extended the Poet lead to double digits at 30-16 and was immediately followed by a triple from Jake Moore (Dallas, TX) that moved the deficit to 15.
The Tigers stopped the run with six straight soon after to get within single digits but Davis would then emerge but this time in high flying fashion as he would convert on the opposite end of an alley-oop from Nick Potthoff (Phoenix, AZ) that brought the Poet faithful to their feet.
This would again spark another Poet run of 10 straight with Longmire and Moore again connecting from deep, while Jordan Lingard (DU, Australia) worked inside for a layup. This run would extend the Poet lead to 45-28 at the break.
In the second half, Occidental fought back with two quick three-pointers and a free throw that pulled them within 12 and they began chipping away from there. Whittier managed to extend the lead to 20 at the 10:19 mark but it wouldn't be enough as Oxy would fight back with a 10-2 run that got them within 12 again with 4:28 to play. Potthoff ended the run with a lay-up that moved the lead back to 14 but 10 unanswered in two minutes by the Tigers would give them new life and a deficit of just four.
After a timeout, Lingard came up big with an and one and converted the three point play but on the ensuing possession for Oxy, Jay Miller would come up big with a three-pointer that kept them in striking distance. Chris Kapano (Los Alamitos, Calif.) added a couple free throws on the opposite end that kept the lead at six but a 5-2 mini-run by Oxy would get them within three with :46 seconds to play.
In the final seconds, Andrew Johnson had a chance to tie the game but his shot was blocked by Aruta and it fell to Martinez who was ultimately fouled. He then stepped to the line and iced the game with one of two free throws helping secure the home victory for the Purple & Gold.
Longmire led the Poets off the bench with 13 points going 5-of-8 from the field. Moore had 12 and Davis with 10, who also added four boards and four assists. Kapano and Lingard each added nine points, while Aruta had a solid 15 minutes of playing time with eight points, two blocks, a steal and six rebounds.
Whittier led the rebounding category 34-31 but turned it over 13 times. They added 28 points in the paint but the difference came from the bench as Whittier outscored Occidental 37-9.
Whittier remains at home as they have short rest in order to prepare for the University of La Verne this Saturday, January 14 at 7:00pm.