LA VERNE, Calif. — Josiah Sukumaran hit a game-winning layup with 40 seconds left in the game and grabbed a huge defensive rebound on the ensuing possession to lift the University of La Verne men's basketball team past Redlands, 59-58, at Frantz Court on Saturday afternoon.
With the Leopards trailing by one, Sukumaran received the ball from Niall Harrison from the left wing and, not seeing any passing outlets, weaved past Redlands defenders to put the Leopards up for the first time since late in the first half.
The Leopards denied Redlands from getting a good look at the basket and the Bulldogs settled for a contested layup by Aljosa Bjekovic late in the shot clock. Sukumaran, as he had done all game, got in a good position and came away with the crucial rebound.
The Bulldogs fouled immediately put Hakim Arnold at the line for one-and-one and got one last chance to steal the game back when Arnold missed the front end. Sean Milligan grabbed the miss and the Bulldogs launched a buzzer beater from 30 feet out, but the shot fell short.
La Verne improves to 5-8 in SCIAC play (9-13 overall) and remains alive for a spot in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament. Redlands falls to 2-11 in the SCIAC (5-17 overall).
The Bulldogs led all second half and took their largest lead of the game at 57-51 with just over five minutes to go. But La Verne freshman Johnny Peterson answered head coach Richard Reed's call with a pair of big free throws and a clutch jumper to get the Leopards within 57-55. Sukumaran then tied it at 57-57 with 1:14 to set up his end-game heroics.
Sukumaran hauled in a game-high 11 rebounds and added six points.
Kendall McClain led the Leopards in scoring with 13 points off the bench. Harrison and Hakim Arnold added eight points apiece.
Bjekovic led all scorers with 17 points, but did most of the damage in the first half where he scored 15 points. Milligan contributed 16 points for the Bulldogs.
La Verne returns to action on Tuesday when it travels to Caltech for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.Follow La Verne Athletics on Twitter @ULVAthletics Follow La Verne Athletics on Instagram @ULVAthletics
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