Basketball shoots past Willamette, 90-87

Basketball shoots past Willamette, 90-87

LA VERNE, Calif. — The University of La Verne men's basketball team shot its way past Willamette, 90-67, on Saturday night at Sports Science and Athletic Pavilion.

La Verne picks up its first win of the season and improves to 1-2 while Willamette falls to 1-3.

The Leopards were red hot from the field. They went 29-for-60 overall (.483) and were even better from long range, sinking 14 three-pointers at a .519 clip.

Cruz Mertens and Kendall McClain both knocked down four threes and Nicholas Lewis added three off the bench.

Khaneal Mason made two threes and filled up the stat sheet, finishing with 13 points, five rebounds, seven assists and a steal.

Hakim Arnold had 13 points and five rebounds off the bench.

Lewis hit a pair of threes in the final 26 seconds of the first half to give the Leoaprds a nine-point cushion at the break. La Verne held the advantage to the end and led by 11-pionts as late as 1:56 remaining in the game, but had to fight off a furious Bearcat rally.

After a Conner Head layup that gave the Leopards an 85-74 lead, Willamette rattled of seven straight points bookended by a pair of Brandon Luedtke layups to get within two possessions with 50 seconds to go. Bridger Harlington added two three-pointer in the final six seconds but the Leopards made just enough free throws and came with one big defensive stop to fend off the Bearcats.

Brendon McCullough led all players with 20 points and Nico Treplent pitched in 16 for Willamette.

La Verne returns to action next Saturday at home against Linfield. Tipoff is at 2 p.m.