Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
CLAREMONT, Calif. - The final score doesn't give the game justice as the Whittier College Men's Basketball team pulled even at 69-69 late in the game only to see it slip away falling 86-76 to the Stags of Claremont-M-S.
Whittier sees their unblemished road record within Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) play come to an end as they drop to 5-11, 3-4 SCIAC, while Claremont-M-S improves to 7-7, 5-1 SCIAC.
The game was tight all night, which included five ties and 13 lead changes. But the final five minutes proved crucial as CMS outscored WC 17-7, which handed them the home victory.
The Poets had their largest lead of the game in the first half, which was at the 13:30 mark after back to back jumpers from Louis Kurihara (Culver City, Calif.) that moved the score to 20-17. Conner Longmire answered a minute later with a triple that kept WC on top but that lead soon diminished as CMS roared back with seven straight that swung the momentum moving the score to 28-23. Jake Moore, who was seeing his first minutes in a while due to injury picked up a huge three-pointer with 9:06 to play that ended the run but again CMS would put up another six straight that kept the margin at eight.
Moore continued to stay red hot from deep as he added another two triples on back to back possessions that pulled WC within four and that led to a late run by the Purple & Gold with Eric Davis (Ventura, Calif.) adding a tip-in followed by layins from Victor Nwaba (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Ryan Henry (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.). This made the score 41-40 in favor of the Stags. They added another jumper quickly to stop the run but again the Poets' Davis would come up with a huge two handed jam right before the half that cut the deficit to one.
The second half remained tight as well. Whittier was outscored 43-34 in the frame but Nick Potthoff (Phoenix, AZ) led the comeback adding eight points on 3-of-6 shooting with six boards that kept WC in the contest. Moore again sparked a comeback in the second half knocking down a three-pointer at the 10:35 mark and Jacob Aruta (Stockton, Calif.) would add a free throw followed by a Potthoff triple and a Moore jumper that gave Whittier a one-point lead at 64-63.
Potthoff and Moore combined for another two baskets with under eight minutes to play to keep the Poets on top and a free throw from Davis would tie things up at 69-69. But a minute and a half later CMS again answered this time with five in a row moving the score to 74-69. Davis would come down and add a layup with 3:14 to play but six straight free throws by the Stags would put the game out of reach.
Moore was huge off the bench playing 21 minutes finishing with a team high 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, adding four three-pointers. Davis registered 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting with three boards, three assists, and two steals, while Nwaba tacked on 13 points and four rebounds. Potthoff missed a double double with an eight point, eight rebound effort and Jordan Lingard (Colac, Australia) was big in the starting lineup finishing with six points, seven rebounds, an assist, and three steals.
Whittier shot 41% from the field and 27% from behind the arc. They were at a 70% clip from the free throw line but hauled in 45 rebounds, dished out 11 assists, and picked up 22 second chance points.
Whittier remains on the road this Saturday, January 20 as they take on Pomona-Pitzer beginning at 2:00pm.