by Sara Lupu
In an effort to close out its season with a win, the University of La Verne men’s basketball team lost to a persistent Whittier College team, 74-69, Feb. 26 in the Supertents.
This was ULV’s second loss this season to the Poets, with the first coming on Feb. 4 in overtime, 106-97.
With both teams close to even in shooting percentage categories, the biggest difference in the final game for both teams was the effort on the boards. Whittier out-rebounded ULV, 42-26, which aided in their ability to outscore the Leopards, 12-3, in the final four minutes.
“I’m not really sure what happened. We just had a complete breakdown of our systems in the last four minutes,” senior guard Marc McCoy said.
ULV junior guard Jason Greenlee had a game-high 21 points, while seniors Steve Rugg and McCoy scored 14 and 12, respectively, in their last college contest.
Whittier’s Aaron Dawson led his team with 19 points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.
With a 12-13 overall record, 4-10 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the Leopards finish the season seventh place overall in the conference.
“We struggled once we got to conference play this year,” head coach Gabe Duran said. “As a team, our focus could have been better because we made too many mistakes at key points in games.”
For a team who was, “excited after they started the season off strong being 4-0, this finish is disappointing,” Greenlee said. “We came into conference, which had some tough competition, and didn’t do the little things like rebounding and making shots down the stretch to close out games.”
Highlighting the season was the Leopards’ 90-84 win against this year’s conference champions, Pomona-Pitzer, Jan. 24.
“They didn’t lose a conference game at home all year with the exception of the one to us. It was big for our team,” Greenlee said.
As far as what the team’s off-season focus will be, Duran said, “We want to get better defensively first and foremost. We also want to get better in the front-court, and tougher both mentally and physically.”
Weight room workouts and conditioning during the summer and the fall are two ways that the team is looking to improve their strength. “For the most part, our effort was pretty strong throughout the season, but we need to work hard in the off-season and continue to build our program up,” Duran said.
Earning SCIAC athletic honors this season were Greenlee, making First Team All-Conference, and McCoy with Second Team honors.