Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – In what many are calling the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Game of the a Week, and maybe the Game of the Year up to this point, the Whittier College Men's Basketball team overcame a 24 point deficit in the first half to fall 97-96 to the University of La Verne.
In front of a crowd of over 1,000 strong, the Purple & Gold couldn't complete the insurmountable comeback Saturday night inside of the Graham Athletic Center as they drop to 6-7, 1-4 SCIAC.
With :35 seconds to play, Conner Longmire (Tarzana, Calif.) knocked down a triple that tied up the game. But on La Verne's next possession they spread the floor and let senior Hakim Arnold, who reached a 1,000 points in his career last night took his defender to the basket laying in the go ahead points with just :09 seconds to play.
Whittier looked for the game-tying basket on the ensuing possession as Anthony Martinez (Cerritos, Calif.) took the ball to the rack going one-on-one but the ball would go out of bounds off of his knee turning it over to La Verne.
A quick foul would send Anthony White to the charity stripe who would knock down both free throws that made it a four point game and despite a buzzer beating three-pointer from Longmire that got WC within one it wouldn't be enough as Whittier would fall 97-96 in front of a raucous crowd.
In the first half, Whittier had no answer for White who couldn't miss from the floor as he added 23 points on 8-of-9 shooting, while knocking down 7-of-8 three-pointers that helped give ULV a 24 point lead. But the Poets didn't go away quietly and ended the first half on an 11-0 run with Nick Potthoff (Phoenix, AZ) knocking down a three-pointer, Longmire and Louis Kurihara (Culver City, Calif.) with layups and a pair of free throws from Kurihara and Chris Kapano (Los Alamitos, Calif.).
This cut the lead to 15 at the break and they remained hot from there in the second half outscoring La Verne 60-46, while putting on a show for the Poet faithful led by Eric Davis (Ventura, Calif.) who landed four big Top 10 dunks and 18 of his team and career high 26 points. He also had seven rebounds.
Potthoff finished with 22 points for his career high on 8-of-11 shooting, while shooting a perfect 5-for-5 from deep with five rebounds, while Kapano totaled 18 points with four rebounds and five assists.
Kurihara was the other starter in double figures with 11 points and picked up six boards, while Martinez came off the bench to register 11 points, four boards and a couple assists.
The Poets finished shooting 48% from the field and 40% from three-pointer territory. They had 12 second chance points and outrebounded La Verne 47-43.
Whittier hits the road for two games this week as they travel to the University of Redlands this Thursday, January 19 with game time set for 7:00pm before traveling to take on Chapman University on Saturday, January 21 beginning at 7:00pm.