Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Men's Basketball team avenged their loss to Johnson & Wales earlier in the season with a 74-72 victory inside of the Graham Athletic Center Saturday night.
The previous time these two teams met, which was back on December 1, the Poets fell 99-87. With the win Whittier improves to 2-6, while Johnson & Wales drops to 8-2.
The Wildcats who were coming off three straight victories, which included Colorado College (84-60), Caltech (74-56), and Chapman (80-77) saw themselves trailing by double digits in the second half and were handed their first road loss on the season. They managed to tie things up at 72-72 with under a minute to play but after that Whittier's Kenyatta Louder (Compton, Calif.) would hand WC the game-winner knocking down a fade away jumper from the elbow with only a few seconds left on the clock.
Despite seeing the Wildcats' Andrew Romero III and Jontrell Herman combining for 51 points, the Poets defensively played tough turning 13 turnovers into 17 points, which proved crucial.
Nick Potthoff (Phoenix, AZ) led the Poets offensively finishing with a double double of 14 points and 10 rebounds. Louder added 14 points and five rebounds with an assist, a steal and two blocks. But the game-changer was Kyle Price (Rocklin, Calif.) off the bench who gave WC a spark finishing with a team high 17 points and four boards in 11 minutes of action. He was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field, 5-for-5 from the free throw line with a steal and two blocks.
Other notable scorers included Journey Shank (Burbank, Calif.) who ran the point posting eight points and a game high seven assists.
Whittier jumped out in front quickly 8-0 following back-to-back layups from Jacob Aruta (Stockton, Calif.) and two jumpers from Louder. The Wildcats stormed back though with six straight to pull within two. Potthoff and Shank went back-to-back with triples and then saw Chester Lewis (Budapest, Hungary) and Price put together the next eight points for the Purple & Gold that moved the score to 24-15.
With under three minutes to play in the first half the Poets continued to maintain a small advantage thanks to two layins from Shank and a tip-in from Lewis. This gave WC a 33-24 advantage before they would take a 35-29 lead into the break.
In the second half Herman attempted to keep the Wildcats in the game with the first 10 points for Johnson & Wales. Whittier managed to stretch the lead to 11 at the 14:46 mark but after that the Wildcats strung together eight straight that cut the deficit to three. After that WC maintained a slight advantage despite JWU pulling within one on five different occasions down the stretch. Johnson & Wales pulled in front with 2:52 to play with a triple coming from Bailey Stephens moving the score to 71-70. Price then responded with two free throws that gave WC back the lead. Romero then went 1-for-2 from the free throw line that tied things up with :35 seconds left but those would be the final points added as Louder would add the game-winner on the Poets final possession.
Whittier shot 48% from the field and 25% from three-point territory. They were outrebounded 40-32 but won the battle in the paint 44-38, while shooting 75% from the charity stripe and dishing out 16 assists.
Whittier returns to Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) play next Sunday, December 16 when they take on Occidental College on the road with tip-off set for 4:00pm.