Men's Basketball

Whittier drops two in a row after loss to UC Santa Cruz

Whittier drops two in a row after loss to UC Santa Cruz

Photo by: Tony Leon/

WHITTIER, Calif. –The Whittier College Men's Basketball team dropped their second straight game Friday night as they gave up their fourth triple digit loss on the season losing 111-89 to UC Santa Cruz inside of the Graham Athletic Center.

The last time these two teams met the Purple & Gold gave up 111 points as they drop the season series with the Banana Slugs.  Whittier now moves to 3-7, 1-1 SCIAC.

It was a rough night for the Poets on the defensive end as UCSC shot 56% from the field and 48% from three-point territory.  They also had four of their five starters in double figures and held a lead as many as 30 midway through the second.

For the game there were eight ties and 10 lead changes all occurring in the first half.  The early stages of the game went back and forth with Eric Davis (Ventura, Calif.) and Jacob Aruta (Stockton, Calif.) controlling the tempo helping Whittier gather a 15-12 lead at the 13:46 mark.  UC Santa Cruz then grabbed the lead right back but again Aruta came up big knocking down a triple putting the Poets back on top.

Louis Kurihara (Culver City, Calif.) then added a layin on the Poets next possession that gave WC a four-point lead and then knocked down a jumper minutes later, which helped spark a small run capped off with a triple from Aruta that moved the score to 30-27.

Whittier tried to stay on top with Reggie Dixon (Oxnard, Calif.) and Ryan Henry (Fontana, Calif.) adding big baskets down low to keep the slim margin.  Aruta and Henry answered moments later with a layup and three-pointer that pushed the lead back to four with 6:33 to play in the half but again UCSC would bounce back with a 7-0 run that kept them in it.  With 3:15 to play in the frame Henry added another big triple but that was quickly answered by Corey Cilia from the Banana Slugs who deadlocked the game at 45-45 before adding another deep connection giving UCSC a 48-45 lead at the break.

It was a big second half for UC Santa Cruz outscoring the Poets 63-44.  They jump-started the period with a 31-6 run, which included 16 unanswered and that proved enough.  Whittier attempted a late comeback with reserves in the game for UCSC pulling within twelve but the comeback would fall short as the starting unit would come in to thwart any hopes for the Purple & Gold.

Victor Nwaba (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Aruta each added team high 18 points.  Aruta was 7-for-8 from the field and played 14 minutes.  Davis added 14 points off the bench with 13 boards and was two assists shy of a triple double.  Kurihara chipped in with 12 playing 31 minutes and Henry and Dixon added 10 points apiece. 

Whittier shot 42% from the field and 30% from three-point territory.  They were outrebounded 45-43 but the big stat was points off turnovers with the Poets turning it over 17 times, leading to 29 points for UCSC.        

Whittier has a short turnaround as they host Gordon College for their final non-conference match-up tomorrow, Saturday, December 30 beginning at 3:00pm.