La Verne Can't Hold Off Rally, Loses to UCSC
SANTA CRUZ – The University of La Verne men's basketball went on a 10-0 run to start the game and led by as much as eight in the second half, but could not hold off a UCSC comeback bid as it fell 46-44 in a defensive struggle at the Kaiser Permanante Arena on Saturday.
La Verne drops to 7-12 overall and UCSC improves to 4-16.
La Verne led by 38-30 with 6:24 left in the game but committed fouls and turnovers that stopped the clock and gave the Banana Slugs a chance to get back in the game. After Cruz Mertens sank a three to put the Leos up by eight, UCSC quickly went on a 7-0 run fueled by five made free throws in less than three minutes to get within a point.
UCSC tied the game at 40-40 with a three by Jared Ponce and took the lead for good when Spencer Wells made a layup with 1:41 to go.
The game started well for the Leopards. Weston Newell opened the scoring with a layup, Niall Harrison pitched in with another and Evan Roberts hit a three to give La Verne a 10-0 lead five minutes into the game. The Leopards also limited UCSC 0-for-9 shooting to start the game.
La Verne extended the lead to 14-1 with 11:06 left in the first half after Harrison scored on consecutive possessions. However, they could only manage three more points the rest of the way and the Banana Slugs slowly chipped away until they finally took the lead for the first time with 3:27 left in the half on a James Townsend 3-pointer.
Townsend scored 10 of his game-high 14 points in the first half and grabbed eight rebounds.
Neither team could get its offense going. La Verne shot 32.1 percent from the field and went 3-for-21 from beyond the arc while UCSC just went 27.5 percent and 2 of 14 from the distance.
Harrison led the Leopards with 11 points in just 14 minutes played.
La Verne returns to conference action when it hosts Redlands on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.