Men's Basketball shoots past Occidental, 75-73

Men's Basketball shoots past Occidental, 75-73

LOS ANGELES — The University of La Verne men's basketball team had its best shooting night in SCIAC play to pick up a critical win at Occidental, 75-73, at Rush Gymnasium on Thursday night.

What it means: La Verne improves to 4-6 in SCIAC play and are two games behind Whittier, who currently sits in fourth place. With six games left, including three against teams ahead of them, the Leopards still has a chance to grab a spot in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament.

Players of the game: Josiah Sukumaran hauled in a season-high 14 rebounds and Kendall McClain supplied a team-high 17 points off the bench. McClain was 5-of-6 from the field including 4-of-5 from long range.

Evan Roberts and Karl Reyes chipped in 11 points each.

How it happened: The Leopards took a five-point lead with just under three minutes to go, but Andrew Garrison hit two straight layups to pull the Tigers within one and Oxy got a chance to take a lead after a miss by Arnold. But Reyes came up with a steal before the Tigers could get into their set and hit a layup to put the Leopards up by three with 30 seconds to go.

Spencer Levy answered with a basket on the ensuing Oxy possession, but the Tigers ate a lot of clock and found themselves having to commit two fouls—they were under the penalty—to get a chance to get the ball back. The Tigers got Reyes with three seconds to go and the La Verne senior hit the front end of his one-and-one, but missed the second.

Juwan Rice came up with the rebound and launched a Hail Mary as time expired, but it came up short.

La Verne jumped out to an early double-digit lead on a flurry of three-pointers. After Oxy took a 20-16 lead on a layup by Andrew Johnson, the Leopards hit five of their next seven three point attempts to take a 33-23 lead.

However, Oxy struck back with a 10-0 run to tie it right back up and La Verne took a 46-41 lead into the break.

The Leopards opened the second half with consecutive layups by Reyes and Hakim Arnold to grab a nine-point lead, but the Tigers once again clawed back with an 8-0 run.

Stat of the game: The Leopards shot 48.4 percent from the field and was red-hot from the distance as they went 10-of-20 from beyond the arc. La Verne's shooting was just enough to overcome 11- and 12-point disadvantages on points off turnovers and at the free throw line, respectively.

Up next: La Verne returns home to host a surging Pomona-Pitzer team that has won four of its last five games, including a win over then-No. 15 Chapman, after starting SCIAC play 0-5. Tipoff is scheduled at 4 p.m.

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