Photo by: Tony Leon/Action/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – Late game heroics by the Whittier College Men's Basketball team Saturday night allowed them to escape with the 83-82 victory over Caltech.
With the win the Purple & Gold improve to 6-9, 3-3 SCIAC, have now won four of their last five and currently sit in sole possession of fourth place in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Standings.
After holding a 19-point lead at the break, Whittier saw Caltech put up 56 points in the second half, sparking a comeback and forcing the final decision to come down to the last minute. With 3:12 remaining in the game, Whittier saw themselves trailing 75-71 following a Noah Barnes jumper. After a pair of defensive stops, Kenyatta Louder (Compton, Calif.) was able to knock down a pair of free throws that cut the deficit to two with a minute to play. The Beavers answered on their next possession with Riley O'Neil going inside with an easy two stretching the lead back to four. But this lead wouldn't hold as Conner Longmire (Tarzana, Calif.) would come down and knock down a triple with :25 seconds on the clock that pulled WC within one at 77-76.
The Poets were then forced to foul on the inbounds pass since the shot clock was turned off sending the Beavers to the line. Gokul Srini then went 1-for-2 from the charity stripe keeping it a one-possession game. Then with no timeouts and :22 seconds on the clock, Whittier was forced to go the length of the court. But sophomore Journey Shank (Burbank, Calif.) was up to the test taking the ball and knocking down a pull up three-pointer from dead on that put the Poets on top 78-76.
Caltech would have another opportunity with :10 seconds remaining to go back on top but Srini would turn the ball over in the backcourt forcing Caltech to foul, sending Nick Potthoff (Phoenix, AZ) to the line. Potthoff knocked down both free-throws that made it a three-point game. Then on the very next inbounds play, Shank would come up with the clinch, stealing the pass and laying it up for two that made it a five-point advantage.
The next time down the floor, Ryan Mendez (Whittier, Calif.) would get called for a blocking foul sending Srini to the line with :04 seconds on the clock and again he would go 1-for-2 making it a two possession game. Caltech had one final look as time expired with Marcus Gee taking a shot from the corner and he would knock it down pulling CIT within one but time had expired allowing Whittier to come away with the victory.
Potthoff finished with 20 points going 6-for-9 from the field with nine boards and a 5-for-8 mark from deep. He also knocked down the first three triples of the game giving Whittier a 9-0 lead within the first three minutes. Louder put up a double double with 16 points and 11 boards and Longmire added 14 points off the bench. Shank was the fourth Poet in double figures finishing with 13 points, four boards, a pair of steals and six dimes.
Whittier shot 49% from the field and 40% from behind the arc. They outrebounded the Beavers 33-29 and won the battle in the paint 26-22.
Whittier travels now for two games as they venture out to Claremont, Calif. this Wednesday, January 16 to take on Claremont-M-S (7:00pm) before going up to Thousand Oaks, Calif. on Saturday, January 19 to take on Cal Lutheran University.