SPOKANE, Wash. — Four Leopards finished in double-digits, led by Connor Head's 21 points as the University of La Verne men's basketball opened the 2017-18 season on the road.
But the Whitworth Pirates went on a late first half run and held on the rest of the way to win 95-73 early Wednesday morning.
Both teams traded baskets early in the game with neither team able to get a sizable lead until the Pirates' late run gave them a 13 point advantage heading into the break.
The Leopards closed the deficit to 10 points early in the second half after Alec Vucinich sank a three-pointer followed by a Cole Currie layup and a free throw by Brandon Rice to put the score at 63-53.
But that was as close as La Verne would get with the Pirates going on a run to take a 28 point lead halfway through the period.
Head nearly notched a double-double in his season debut, grabbing nine rebounds in the game. The senior added three three-pointers.
La Verne and Whitworth had nearly identical shooting percentages with the Leopards draining 45.3 percent of their shots and the Pirates shooting 46.2 percent. But La Verne was hurt by 19 turnovers that Whitworth turned into 14 points.
Currie scored 13 points, going 6-11 from the floor. Rice came off the bench to score 11 points. Victor Costa added 10 points for the Leopards.
Jordan Lester led the Pirates with 26 points.
Next Game: The Leopards will play a neutral site game against Linfield on Tuesday, November, 21 at 4 p.m. hosted at Caltech. The following day La Verne will play their season opener against Pacific (Ore.) at 2 p.m.