THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Coming off a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) road win on Wednesday, the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen returned to the Gilbert Arena where they nearly continued their winning ways this evening. A late push by La Verne saw the Leopards spoil a chance at a three-game win streak for CLU.
A slow start on both sides failed to see either team really take control, though the Kingsmen led 25-20 at halftime. After a back-and-forth battle between the teams during the opening frame in which the squads were tied seven times and never separated by more than six points, it was a spark from Corey Quintana that swayed the momentum in favor of the home team. The freshman hit back-to-back shots on a three-pointer and a jumper, on opposite sides of the court, on consecutive possessions. Dan Wade drove to the basket with 22 seconds to play to give CLU the five-point advantage they would take into the locker room.
It was a stale second stanza as well, until the Leos made a statement, pulling within a point at 51-50 on a basket from Alex Wolpe in the paint with 1:33 to play in regulation. With 47.2 seconds ULV took their first lead of the second half on a jumper from Eric Becker and earned an advantage for the first time since the 4:44 mark in the first half.
A valiant defensive effort was rewarded as Collin Knudsen went flying over the score table, earning possession of a loose ball, giving the Kingsmen another opportunity in the final 12 seconds. Unfortunately, CLU was unable to convert and the Leopards closed out the final possession to hold on for the come-from-behind win.
The second half was highlighted by a steal and fast break dunk by senior Jayvaughn Nettles who finished with seven points and a game-high eight rebounds.
For the third consecutive game Quintana set a career best in scoring, tonight leading all players with 20 on 6-for-11 shooting. Jeremy Sulker-Hall was the only other CLU player to finish in double figures with 10. CLU shot 42.9 percent from the field tonight and was 11-for-14 at the charity stripe.
La Verne (3-11, 2-4 SCIAC) shot at a slightly higher clip than the Kingsmen at 44.7 percent and was paced by a 19-point night from Jake Vieth who was 5-for-7 from long range. Ronn See had a game high four assists for the Leos.
Defensively CLU came down with two more rebounds, 29, than La Verne with each team grabbing seven offensive boards. Sulker-Hall had seven total rebounds for the Kingsmen while Vince Bauer led the Leopards with six.
Cal Lutheran (7-8, 3-3) heads out on the road for a showdown with the SCIAC leading Stags from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 7:30 p.m.