ORANGE, Calif. — The University of La Verne men's basketball team split a pair of games against two in-division opponents at the Chapman Classic on Dec. 29-30.
La Verne 62, Oberlin 54
Arnold led all players with 17 points and added eight rebounds for good measure.
Stephan had a second straight strong game off the bench, scoring 10 points in 19 minutes.
Mertens rode a 3-of-5 shooting from the long range to score 11 points.
La Verne smothered Oberlin from the field, limiting the Yeomen to just 25.4 percent from the field including 3 of 27 from beyond the arc.
The Leopards outrebounded the Yeomen, 26-15, in the first half to build a 12-point lead at halftime. Oberlin had gotten within 28-22 using an 8-2 run, but the Khaneal Mason closed out the half with a pair of free throws and a jumper to give the Leopards some cushion going into the break.
Despite a poor shooting afternoon, Oberlin hung around until the final minutes. La Verne built its largest lead of the game, 48-34, on a Stephan midrange jumper with 11:24 remaining, but the Yeomen ripped off a 7-0 run keyed by Matt Walker to trim the deficit in half with over eight minutes to go.
Oberlin never let the lead to extend to over 10 points and got within seven points on several different occasions, but that was as close as it would get. The Leopards hit a clutch jumper after clutch jumper down the stretch and sank their last five free throws to hold off the Yeomen.
Miles Gueno led the Yeomen with 12 points. Walker provided a spark off the bench with 10 points and hauled in a game-high nine rebounds.
Monday: St. Joseph's (Brooklyn) 68, La Verne 52
Brett Stephan scored nine points off the bench on 3-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc but the Leopards couldn't overcome poor shooting from elsewhere in a 68-52 loss to St. Joseph's (Brooklyn) on Monday.
Josiah Sukumaran continued his strong work on the glass with nine rebounds while handing out two assists and snagging two steals.
Hakim Arnold scored nine eight points but shot less than 50 percent from the field for the first time since Dec. 5.
The Leopards jumped out to a 8-3 lead on a pair of three-pointers by Cruz Mertens and a layup by Niall Harrison, but the Bears responded with a 9-0 run and never looked back.
La Verne got back within 20-18 with a couple of free throws by Arnold with about nine minutes remaining in the first half but St. Joseph's once against had an answer as the Bears rattled off eight straight points to take a 28-18 lead.
La Verne shot just 32 percent in the first half and their shooting woes continued in the second half as the Bears stretched their lead. The Leopards started the second half 2-for-9 and the Bears grabbed the largest lead of the game, 53-30 on Nolan Parr's three with just over 11 minutes remaining in the game.
Stephan hit all three of his shots in a span of less than three minutes to help the Leopards make a late move to get within 60-48 but six straight points by St. Joseph's Michael Megafu doused any comeback hopes.
Megafu led all players with 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead St. Joseph's and three other Bears reached double figures in scoring. David Louison and Jamir Archer each had 13 points while Matt O'Neill added 11.
La Verne will play its third game in as many days when it travels to NCAA Division II Cal State Bakersfield tomorrow in a final non-conference game before the start of SCIAC play. The Leopards will tip off against the Roadrunners at 2 p.m.Follow La Verne Athletics on Twitter @ULV_Athletics Follow La Verne Athletics on Instagram @ULV_Athletics
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