Men’s basketball snaps 3-game skid

Junior La Verne guard Hakim Arnold makes a jumper over senior Whittier guards Eric Jennings and Louis Kurlhara Saturday at Frantz Athletic Court. Arnold finished the game with 14 points. In the final seconds of the game, junior guard Khaneal Mason made up a layup to give La Verne the lead. The Leopards preyed on the Poets, 91-89./ photo by Meghan Attaway
Junior La Verne guard Hakim Arnold makes a jumper over senior Whittier guards Eric Jennings and Louis Kurlhara Saturday at Frantz Athletic Court. Arnold finished the game with 14 points. In the final seconds of the game, junior guard Khaneal Mason made up a layup to give La Verne the lead. The Leopards preyed on the Poets, 91-89. / photo by Meghan Attaway

Jose Brambila
Staff Writer

La Verne junior guard Khaneal Mason put up a layup with 2.3 seconds left in the second half, to give the men’s basketball team a 91-89 win over Whittier Saturday at Frantz Athletic Court, to snap a three-game losing streak.

“I mean it’s a great feeling cause it’s my first ever game winner that I’ve made in my life, so it was an incredible feeling,” Mason said.

The Leopards returned home to face the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags Wednesday, but fell short, 65-60.

La Verne kept the score close throughout the game.

In the last six seconds of the second half, junior guard Hakim Arnold made a layup to get La Verne within four, 64-60.

CMS sophomore guard Michael Scarlett made one of his two free throws, to push its lead to five, 65-60.nick lewis

Arnold attempted a three-point jump shot with two seconds left, but missed. La Verne is 7-5 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play and 9-12 overall.

“We’re a team and these guys play hard,” head coach Richard Reed said. “They give me every ounce and energy that they have.”

The second half against Whittier went back and forth, with neither team leading by more than six points.

With less than a minute left in the second half of the game, junior forward Jordan Stokes made a layup to give La Verne a 89-86 lead.

Though with a free throw by Whittier and then a layup by senior guard Eric Jennings, tied the game at 89.

On La Verne’s next possession, Mason darted across the court to make the layup and take the lead. Mason finished the game with 10 points.

The Poets attempted to answer back with a long shot, but missed.

“Whittier is one of our top two rivals,” Arnold said. “Every time we play them theirs going to be a chip on my shoulder and a chip on my teams shoulders.”

Arnold finished the game with 14 points.

To begin the first half of the game, La Verne senior forward Nick Lewis put up the first two shots to give the Leopards a 4-2 lead.

With 6:22 in the first half, sophomore guard Anthony Martinez made the Poets fourth three-pointer to give Whittier the 34-31 lead.

After driving through the middle, Lewis was able to draw the foul and sank two free throws to get the Leopards within one, 34-33, with 6:01 left in the first half.

Lewis notched a double-double, as he finished the game with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

La Verne continued to edge Whittier to keep the game close.

Momentum kicked in for Whittier, after senior guard Andrew Torres made a layup, giving the Poets a 45-40 lead, with 1:16 left in the first half.

Eight seconds later, sophomore guard Victor Costa dove for the ball for a steal.

“We worked on that in practice. It’s 50/50 balls. We gotta get all of them. That’s what coach emphasizes,” Costa said.

Costa managed to sink in a jumper, with the assist of sophomore guard Connor Head to get within two, 45-43.

Head connected once more with Costa for three-pointer, giving La Verne a 46-45 lead heading into halftime.

The Leopards are still in the hunt for the playoffs, but are focused on the next game instead.

“We don’t even talk about those things, we’re talking about winning our next game. When you start getting distracted by who’s in first and who’s in second and who’s in third we control our destiny,” Reed said.

“I told our players if we win all our games between now and the end of the season we’re national champions. You don’t have to worry about it. You just have to win your next game.”

The Leopards are back in action against the Occidental Tigers at 2 p.m. Saturday at Frantz Athletic Court.

The last time these two teams met, the Leopards defeated the Tigers in overtime, 74-72.

Jose Brambila can be reached at jose.brambila@laverne.edu.

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