The men’s basketball team finished its final preseason test Saturday night with a 73-53 win over the Afghanistan national team in front of a home crowd at Frantz Athletic Court.
“We are a really strong team this year with our strength in numbers and unselfish playing style,” head coach Richard Reed said. “We are a great team family and we set aside our personal issues for the better of the team.”
The Leopards were dominant throughout the game, leading 25-19 in the first half. They then went on another run which included a pair of threes from senior guard Jake Veith to push the score to 39-26.
La Verne was able to maintain its lead with their hot shooting from beyond the arc.
The Leopards shot more than 50 percent from the three point line, going 9-17.
The Afghanistan national team tried to make a small run at the beginning of the second half, but it was short lived after the Leopards went on a run 10-0 run themselves. Six of the 10 points were scored by Veith.
Veith then went on to score the final points of the run with a free throw play followed by a three pointer to push the Leopards’ lead to 17 with less than 13 minutes to play.
From that point on the Leopards kept their double digit lead through the remainder of the game.
The Leopards’ defense held the Afghans to 39 percent field goal shooting.
Freshman guard Weston Newell hit a free throw in the final minute of the game, giving the Leopards their final 20 point lead, 73-53.
“We worked really hard as a team, but we were a bit sluggish coming out,” Veith said. “It shows we have some work to do before conference starts and learn to play together as a team but it is a great start for us.”
The top scorers for the Leopards were Veith and sophomore guard Jourdan Simmonds.
Veith finished with a game high of 22 points, including five three-pointers.
Simmons also reached double figures with 11 points.
Senior center Alex Wolpe and junior forward Alonzo Young each had seven points.
Senior forward Vince Bauer led the Leopards with six rebounds.
Haroun Arefi led the Afghanistan national team with 19 points.
“This year is a big year for us and we have a lot to prove but with help from the seniors, I think our team is well prepared and we are ready for anything,” Newell said.
The Leopards begin the regular season this week as they travel to Oregon to face Willamette on Friday at 5 p.m.
Danielle Hunt can be reached at email@example.com.