Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – The Whittier College Men's Basketball team opened up their 2017-18 season in exciting fashion Friday afternoon at the Mission Inn Tipoff Classic as they came from behind to nearly top Linfield College falling 76-75 on the final possession.
Whittier managed to erase an 18 point deficit late in the first half storming back to outscore the Wildcats 50-41 in the second, while taking a lead 75-74 with under :10 seconds to play. But on the final possession, the Poets fell unlucky getting called for a hand check giving Linfield two free-throws, which they converted sealing the win. The Purple & Gold trailed 72-70 with a 1:02 left but sophomore Nick Potthoff (Phoenix, AZ) came up big with a triple from dead on that gave WC a one point advantage. The Wildcats answered with their own layup on the next possession down the floor but again that lead would be short-lived as Conner Longmire (Tarzana, Calif.) grabbed an offensive board and put up a floater that swung the momentum.
The first half was all Linfield as they shot 40% from the field with Jordan Clark pouring in 13 points. Whittier tried to match them with a 33% clip but 14 turnovers proved costly in the first 20:00 that gave the Wildcats a ten point lead at the break.
The momentum swung the Poets way in the second half as they shot 50% from the field and 43% from behind the arc. Victor Nwaba (Los Angeles, Calif.) went off as he added 19 of his game high 27 points in the frame, while Longmire added 14, which pulled Whittier back into the contest. Whittier finished the game shooting 42% from the field and outrebounded the Wildcats 49-39, while adding 24 points off turnovers and 32 points inside the paint.
Jacob Aruta (Stockton, Calif.) finished was the only other Poet in double figures with 11 and hauled in eight boards. Potthoff had six points and six rebounds and Longmire totaled 16 points, seven boards, and three assists.
Whittier returns to the court tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, November 18 when they take on host UC Santa Cruz beginning at 1:30pm.