Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – Alumni Appreciation Night was spoiled Saturday night inside of the Graham Athletic Center as the Whittier College Men's Basketball team faltered in an 84-72 loss to Occidental College.
The Purple & Gold made an epic comeback Wednesday night on the road against Cal Lutheran and again found themselves trailing by double digits against the Tigers late in the second half. But this time around couldn't complete the comeback as they dropped to 4-9, 2-2 SCIAC losing four of their last five.
Whittier was in a tough spot early as Oxy jumped in front 16-5 over the first six minutes. Joey Toyama (Pasadena, Calif.) provided a spark off the bench soon after knocking down a triple and was followed by Conner Longmire (Tarzana, Calif.) connecting from long range that got WC back into the contest.
Toyama and Longmire combined for another five points at the 11:31 mark that pulled the Poets within five. This would be the spark they needed as Ryan Henry (Fontana, Calif.) would come down on their next possession knocking down a triple followed by Longmire with a jumper, Victor Nwaba (Los Angeles, Calif.) with a layin, and Henry and Longmire capping off an 11-3 run with touches off the glass that put WC on top 27-26.
The lead went back and forth after that changing hands on three different occasions. Whittier was able to hold a 34-30 advantage after a Henry three-pointer with 5:46 to play. But that lead wouldn't hold as Oxy would come down to deadlock the game at 36-36 at intermission.
It was a story of two halves from that point on as Whittier would get outscored 48-36 in the second stanza. Nobody saw double figures over the final 20:00 minutes but second chance opportunities plagued the Poets as they were outrebounded down the stretch 22-13 allowing Oxy to come away with the win.
Whittier had an opportunity late to pull within single digits with Nwaba adding an and one with 6:43 to play followed by Henry taking it to the rack with a nice layin to move the deficit to ten. But five unanswered by the Tigers would push the lead back to 15 and then over the final 4:00 they would outscore WC 10-9 that allowed them to escape with the win.
Longmire finished with 17 points playing big for the Purple & Gold in his second straight game. He was joined by Henry who added 16 points playing 22 minutes going 5-of-6 from the field. Nick Potthoff (Phoenix, AZ) led the rebounding effort with seven boards and added seven points.
Whittier shot 39% (26-67) from the field and 25% (6-24) from three-point territory. Their hot shooting came from the free throw line where they went 14-16 (87.5%). They were outrebounded 42-33 and turned the ball over 13 times but earned 52 points from their bench.
Whittier has a short turnaround as they return this upcoming week with two early games. They travel to take on the Uni. of Redlands on Monday, January 8 beginning at 7:00pm and then return home to the GAC to host Chapman University on Wednesday, January 10 beginning at 7:00pm.