Down 25 points at half time, the University of La Verne men’s basketball team battle back to fall short when Adrian Ferrera missed a game-winning three-pointer to the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in a 71-69 loss at Frantz Athletic Center on Monday night.
It was the seniors’ last home game, and they wanted to go out in style with a victory over conference leader Claremont.
But the Stags had a different agenda.
The Stags defense immediately suffocated La Verne’s dysfunctional offense opening up a 19-3 lead in the first six minutes of the game.
Miles Taylor and Emanuel Maceira pounded the Leopards offensively, scoring 23 and 16 points each.
“Coach reinforced that this was our last home game,” Ferrera said. “He asked us if we wanted to be remembered by being down 25 points and losing or by being down 25 points and winning,” he added.
At half time, the Leopards were down 44-19 and had the crowd believing the game was completely out of reach.
The Leopards managed to only shoot 26.9 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from behind the arc.
The University’s scoring leader Jason Greenlee was held in check with only six points and a miserable 2-12 from the field.
“They did a real good job having a defender stay on me,” Greenlee said. “Every time I went to the key they had two or three guys on me.”
Claremont came out in the second half flat, believing that they had crushed the Leopards’ spirits and confidence.
The Leopards started the second half with a 19-3 run cutting the lead down to 49-41.
Ferrera provided key points for La Verne cutting the lead shorter, but the Leopards managed to only get two points within the lead before Claremont came to their senses by finishing the game off.
“I don’t even know why we came out so flat,” senior Lanier Brown said. “It has been like this all season, but we showed how good we can play by coming back from a 25 point deficit,” he added.
Even though the team was outscored in the second half 50-27, the Stags held on to capture a big win over the Leopards to secure the SCIAC title finishing 12-1 in league play.
The Stags out rebounded the Leopards 33-29 and shot 78 percent from the free-throw line.
Seven seniors will be leaving the Leopards this year.
Four of them are starters, including Greenlee, who is a SCIAC first team member, and Brown, who is a SCIAC second team member.
Replacing these seven seniors will be hard for the Leopards because they bring leadership and depth to the team.
On Thursday the magnificent seven traveled to Whittier College to end their careers as a member of the La Verne basketball team.
Darnell Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com.