LA VERNE, Calif. — The University of La Verne men's basketball team shot over 55 percent and 11 different Leopards scored, but had to withstand a second-half Mt. Aloysius charge to beat the Mounties, 82-76, at Frantz Court on Wednesday afternoon.
The Leopards were led by Hakim Arnold, who continued his torrid start to the season with 17 points on perfect 7-of-7 shooting and seven rebounds.
Arnold came up clutch for La Verne. After an Arin Wade layup got the Mounties within 77-74 with just over a minute left to go, Arnold pulled up for a straightaway jumper to give the Leopards some breathing room. He then grabbed two crucial defensive rebounds on the ensuing Mt. Aloysius possessions and sank 3-of-4 free throws to essentially seal the game for the Leopards.
Mt. Aloysius jumped out to an early double-digit lead but La Verne clawed back into the game with pinpoint shooting. After a Dillon Bender three-pointer gave the Mounties a 25-15 lead, La Verne hit four straight shots from the mid- to long-range to slash the deficit to just a point and eventually tied the game at 34-34 on two consecutive three-pointers by Nicholas Lewis and Cruz Mertens.
La Verne took the lead for the first time on its next possession when Kendall McClain drained a three from the left corner and drew a foul on the shot for a four-point play. Bender answered with a four-point plan of his own for Mt. Aloysius to tie it at 40-40, but that was as close as it would get as Brett Stephan hit a lay-up and Josiah Sukumaran made a couple of jumpers—including a three-pointer—to give the Leopards a 47-40 lead going into halftime.
Arnold then picked up right where his team left off and scored three straight baskets out of the break to give the Leopards their largest lead of the afternoon, 53-40.
Mt. Aloysius rallied to cut the deficit to single digit, but the Leopards had an answer every time the Mounties would get close. Weston Newell had good drives to the basket, Arnold continued to hit shots and La Verne hit just enough free throws to keep the Mounties at bay.
Newell finished with 14 points.
Sukumaran chipped in with eight points and seven rebounds and Khaneal Mason had five points and five assists off the bench for La Verne.
Wade had a game-high 23 points, Bender had 17 and Nolan Doyle added 15 for Mt. Aloysius.
The Leopards will have a quick turnaround as they host Transylvania on Thursday at 2 p.m.Follow La Verne Athletics on Twitter @ULV_Athletics Like La Verne Athletics on Facebook Follow La Verne Athletics on Instagram @ULV_Athletics Sign up for our newsletter