Men’s Basketball tops Willamette in season opener

Men’s Basketball tops Willamette in season opener

SALEM, Ore. — The University of La Verne men's basketball team rode hot shooting from the three-point line to beat Willamette, 73-63, in the season opener at Cone Field House on Friday night.

The Leopards connected on 11 of 21 three-pointers (.524), including seven of 14 in the first half. Weston Newell and Kendall McClain led the barrage, combining for nine made three-pointers. Newell was perfect 4-for-4 and McClain hit 5 of 9.

McClain finished with a team-high 17 points while Newell had 14.

The teams traded a couple baskets to start the game, but La Verne took the lead for good with a Newell three-pointer halfway into the first half and never looked back.

Brandon Luedtke did bring the Bearcats within 33-32 with 4:40 left in the first half with a layup, but McClain responded with two consecutive threes to give La Verne some breathing room heading into the break.

La Verne stretched the lead to 12 early in the second help aided again by a pair of McClain three-pointers. After the Bearcats got within 39-36, Paul Titchener hit a jumper, McClain hit two straight threes and Titchener capped it off with a free throw.

La Verne kept Willamette at an arm's length the rest of the way, but weren't quite able to put the game away until a pair of free throws by Karl Reyes gave the Leopards a 67-55 cushion with 1:19 remaining in the game.

Reyes had a solid game himself, contributing 12 points to go along with seven rebounds and three assists.

Josiah Sukumaran collected a team-high eight rebounds for La Verne and the Leopards had five players grab at least five rebounds.

La Verne outrebounded Willamette, 51-37, and limited the Bearcats to .343 shooting.

Luedtke had 19 points, 15 rebounds and two steals for Willamette. Nico Troplent also scored 19 points.

The Leopards continue their season-opening Oregon swing on Saturday, facing Pacific at 6 p.m.

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