LA VERNE, Calif. — It was the kind of finish every basketball fan looks for, especially for those fans rooting for the home team at Sports Science and Athletic Pavilion on Monday night.
After a wild end-game sequence, Anthony White drilled a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the right wing to lift the University of La Verne men's basketball team to a 70-69 victory over Chapman.
Leading by two with just 2.4 seconds left in the game, all Chapman had to do was successfully inbound the ball. But La Verne executed the inbounds defense to perfection and Luke Hamlin threw the ball away, giving the Leopards one final chance with all 2.4 seconds remaining.
White set a screen for Hakim Arnold on the ensuing play and with both man defenders following Arnold to take away a tying layup, White popped out beyond the 3-point line, wide open. Khaneal Mason found White and White sank the shot to give the Leopards their third SCIAC win of the season.
"We run that play eight or nine times a game," La Verne head coach Richard Reed said of the game-winning play. "And we have about 15 or 16 different reads off that play. I knew we'd get a look but I didn't know what. … They switched the screen and our guys read the play right."
La Verne improves to 5-7 overall and 3-1 in SCIAC play. Chapman falls to 8-3 and 2-1.
Arnold, who has been clutch in second halves all season, once again came up big in the closing moments of the game. He scored 11 second half points and weaved through the Panthers' defense for layup to get the Leopards within 69-67, setting up the winning play.
Despite trailing for most of the game, the Leopards limited Chapman's high-octane offense enough to stay within striking distance. The Panthers had come into the matchup averaging 84 points and shot an incredible 56 percent from long range in the first two SCIAC games but were limited to just 69 points and 30.8 percent tonight. La Verne also forced 19 turnovers, more than twice the average committed by the Panthers in the first two conference games.
"We told our point guards we wanted to pressure them and Khaneal, Connor [Head] and Tony [Warwick] wore them down with constant pressure," Reed said. "We wanted to take away some of their normal action."
The Leopards missed a critical free throw with 14 seconds in the game and gave up a handful of offensive rebounds in the final moments that seemed too much to overcome. But Davis Dragovich missed a big free throw of his own that would've stretched Chapman's lead to 70-65 and the Leopards took advantage.
"I was proud of our effort," Reed said. "We gave up five offensive rebounds late in the game but luckily there was enough time left for us to be able to take care of business.
"I challenged our guys' toughness an they responded. It's the players. The players make the plays."
Arnold led all players with 19 points and added six rebounds. Cruz Mertens hit some big 3-pointers to finish with 12 points and White ended with 13 points.
James Taylor posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds for Chapman. Rob Nelson scored 17 points and Cam Haslam added 16.
The Leopards are back in action on the road on Saturday at Redlands. Tipoff is at 5 p.m.