Men's Basketball falls to Occidental, 65-63

LA VERNE, Calif. — Brett Stephan caught fire in the second half but the University of La Verne men's basketball team couldn't overcome a big halftime deficit in a 65-63 loss to Occidental at Frantz Court on Thursday night.

Stephan scored all 16 of his points after the break and had a chance to send the game into overtime with a long jumper just inside the three-point line as time expired.

But the shot just rimmed out and the Tigers escaped the Tents with a narrow victory.

La Verne falls to 5-8 overall and 1-3 in SCIAC play. Occidental improves to 6-6 and 2-2 in the SCIAC.

Stephan scored La Verne's last 10 points and 14 of the last 16. With the Leopards down 51-47, the senior sank a huge three-pointer from the left wing, drew a foul and completed the four-point play to get La Verne within one. He then hit a couple more threes, a putback off his own miss and a reverse layup driving in from the left corner to keep the Leopards in the game.

But La Verne just could not complete their defensive possessions as Oxy used a pair of crucial second chance opportunities to keep the Leopards at bay. After Niall Harrison gave the Leopards their first lead since early in the first half with a layup with 7:17 to go, Oxy's Juwan Rice grabbed an offensive rebound off a miss and converted the putback to immediately tie it back up. When Stephan hit a three to cut the lead back to a point, Andrew Johnson got his own miss back on the other end and went back up to stretch the lead again.

La Verne jumped out to a 14-7 lead to start the game, but Oxy answered with 11 straight points keyed by a couple of three-pointers from Spencer Levy. Levy scored 18 points in the first half to give the Tigers a 40-32 lead going into the break.

Hakim Arnold led the Leopards with 18 points.

Levy led all scorers with 23 points for Oxy and Rice had 22. Johnson chipped in nine points and 11 rebounds.

La Verne returns to action at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Saturday at 4 p.m.

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