Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
PASADENA, Calif. – The Whittier College Men's Basketball team got back on the right track Wednesday night snapping their three game losing skid pulling off a huge 78-76 road victory over the Beavers of Caltech.
Whittier needed to find a way to get out of their slump and they did just that shooting 46% from the field and 39% from behind the arc, while four players recorded double digit scoring efforts.
It was a story of two halves as the Poets built a 17-point halftime lead only to see it evaporate quickly in the second as Caltech fought back putting up 52 points over the final 20:00 minutes forcing the game to be decided within the final minute of play.
Victor Nwaba (Los Angeles, Calif.) finished with a team high 17 points going 8-of-13 from the field along with eight boards, three assists, and a steal. Louis Kurihara (Culver City, Calif.) added 13 points with three triples and Jake Moore (Dallas, TX) registered 13 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes of action off the bench. The fourth Poet in double figures was Conner Longmire (Tarzana, Calif.) who added 10 points coupled with eight boards and four assists.
The game was back and forth within the first ten minutes of the game but it opened up quickly after as Jacob Aruta (Stockton, Calif.) and Moore went back-to-back with three-pointers that sparked a 19-4 run. During this spurt, Moore added 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting helping the Poets go in front 32-19.
With a 1:31 to play in the half, Caltech fought back to pull within ten with five straight but with under a minute to play Nwaba and Longmire would team up with seven unanswered giving WC a 41-24 lead at the break.
In the second half it was all Caltech who fought back using the long ball to cut the margin down quickly. They shot 40% from deep and converted five three-pointers over the final ten minutes, which included two within the final :30 seconds of the game that kept them within striking distance. CIT used a 12-1 run covering a two minute span late in the game to pull within three at 73-70 with 1:06 remaining. Thirty seconds later, Longmire came up huge with a layup that stretched the lead back to five but again CIT didn't go away as Marcus Gee would answer from deep cutting the deficit to two. After a quick foul, Longmire was sent to the line where he made both free throws moving the margin to four. But on the Beavers next possession Spencer Schneider would come up clutch with another triple that made it a one-point game with :18 seconds to play.
Caltech quickly fouled on the ensuing inbounds sending Kurihara to the line. He made one of two giving Caltech one last look for the equalizer or game-winner. On the last possession David Kawashima got the handoff and took it to the rack but was denied by the Poets defensive unit as WC held on for the victory.
Whittier outrebounded Caltech 45-35 but lost the battle in the paint 42-28. They added 14 assists and shot 50% from the charity stripe.
Whittier returns home this Saturday, January 27 when they take on the Uni. of Redlands beginning at 5:00pm.