The men’s basketball team pulled through a win with only 40 seconds left in the game and defeated the Redlands Bulldogs, 59-58, Saturday at Frantz Athletic Court.
Though they struggled throughout the game, the Leopards were able to fix their mistakes and make a comeback to win the game.
“We had our ups and downs, we managed to fight the whole time and end it with a big win,” senior center Niall Harrison said.
“We fought down the stretch and stole it at the end,” he said.
La Verne started off the game strong by winning the jump ball, but soon fell behind when Redlands scored a quick six points within the first minute of the game.
The score kept going back and forth the entire first half.
The offense managed to keep it together with shots from the teams leaders.
Sophomore guard Kendall McClain led the team with 13 points.
Senior forward Josiah Sukumaran led in rebounding, finishing with a game-high of 11 and also six points.
McClain tied up the game with a two pointer, but the Bulldogs came back with a two- pointer of their own putting them ahead going into halftime, 39-37.
The Leopards struggled with mistakes and fought to keep up with the Bulldogs during the first half, but they held it together, keeping it a tight game.
“We tried to take care of the ball on our end and not try to turn it over,” head coach Richard Reed said.
“I feel like if we did not turn over the ball so much in the first half then the score would have been way down,” he said.
The Leopards came into the second half struggling more than they did in the first, with the Bulldogs taking a lead, 57-51, with only a few minutes left in the game.
“In the second half, the flow of the offense went in different ways,” Harrison said.
He finished with eight points.
Freshman guard Johnny Peterson gave the Leopards a fighting chance when he scored a free throw and a two-pointer, cutting the Bulldogs lead to just two, 57-55.
Sukumaran then managed to tie the game at 57 with a clutch jumper as the clock was winding down.
In the last 40 seconds of the game, Sukumaran again received the ball from Harrison and was able to score a layup, taking a one-point lead, 59-58.
The Bulldogs had the final possession of the game, but the La Verne defense stepped it up and denied Redlands to score.
The Leopards pulled out the win, 59-58, to break their two game losing streak. With only a few games left, the Leopards have a lot of work to accomplish.
“I think we could improve our free throw shooting and getting stops,” Arnold said. Arnold finished with eight points in the game.
The team plans on taking one opponent at a time, practicing hard and keeping their motivation up to continue to stay eligible for a spot in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference postseason tournament.
The Leopards also fell short against the Caltech Beavers Tuesday at Braun Athletic Center, losing 70-69.
The team had a 15-2 run at the beginning of the game, but were unable to follow through, as they fell to the Beavers.
Caltech had their largest lead of the game, 64-48, over the Leopards, after going on a 24-9 run.
They held the Leopards down, dominating the game with a 16-point lead with less than five minutes remaining.
The Leopards got close, hoping to come in clutch and pull out the win. Arnold managed to put up nine more points late in the game, along with McClain.
McClain put down two three-pointers, giving the Leopards hope, as they were down by just one with nine seconds left.
La Verne managed to get the last possession of the game.
Time ran out and the Leopards were unable to get a shot up.
Arnold led the team with a game-high 24 points and also had nine rebounds, along with three assists.
Sukumaran again led the team with rebounds, finishing with ten. La Verne is currently 5-9 in SCIAC play and 9-14 overall on the season.
The team’s next game is 4 p.m. Saturday at Chapman.
Lauren Crumbaker can be reached at email@example.com.