La Verne could not stop the Oberlin offense on Friday, losing 96-70.
After a heartbreaking 1-24 season last year, the men’s basketball team rebuilt their roster from the ground up and they have hopes of recovering from last season.
“We’re really young this year with 10 incoming freshmen, so this year’s an inexperienced team,” senior center Evan Gustafson said. “So we’ve got to start from the bottom and build ourselves back up.”
Unfortunately, Oberlin gained the upper hand early in the first half, building an 11- point lead just 10 minutes into the game.
“We came out super flat and not ready to play at all,” sophomore small-forward Jordan Allen said.
The Leopards’ offense seemed sluggish throughout the half, and was unable to generate momentum for the team.
The story of the Leopards’ defense was similar: unable to slow down Oberlin’s unrelenting attack.
The Yeomen stretched the lead to 48-29 by halftime.
“Our defense was pretty bad,” Allen said. “They weren’t all-stars on offense or anything, we just couldn’t execute.”
However, La Verne did have a few bright spots throughout the night after subbing in Gustafson and sophomore point guard Tevin McClain, both dropping 16 points to lead the team in scoring.
While La Verne was able to keep up with Oberlin on offense during the second half, the Leopards could not stop Oberlin’s 3-point shooters.
The Yeomen shot 63 percent on 17-27 from the 3-point line, which players say came as a surprise to the team.
“[For our gameplan] We kinda wanted them to shoot threes, they hadn’t really shot well last season from three, but this game was a bit of a surprise — they shot really well from three today, and we didn’t make that adjustment,” McClain said.
Another bright spot for the Leopards was freshman guard Justin Tibbs. He had a standout game in his debut for La Verne, scoring 11 points (eight in the second half) as well as adding on two steals and assists.
Despite La Verne’s individual performances, it was not enough to overcome their deficit from the first half, ending the game 96-70, Oberlin.
ULV finished the half shooting 37 percent from the field with 22 percent from three.
“Because we were slow and not ready to go, we weren’t able to execute our gameplan how we wanted,” Gustafson said.
Players say that the team’s biggest concern is building effective chemistry within the team, since the team is still very young — and without an identity.
“Mostly we’re trying to become more team-oriented,” McClain said.
“We don’t really have an established star on the team so it’s important that we play together as a team.”
The Leos put together a better second half. They nearly kept matched Oberlin in second half points, 48-41.
Also, La Verne’s shooting numbers were much better in the second half. They shot nearly 52 percent from the field and increased their three-point percentage to 33 percent for the half.
La Verne would go on to lose their next game on the road against Linfield College, 112-78, Wednesday night.
Freshman guard Sinai Enoch led the Leopards with 24 points off the bench. The loss drops the Leopards to an overall record of 0-2.
The Leopards will look to improve that record next week at the UC Santa Cruz Thanksgiving Classic, starting at noon Nov. 24 against the host Banana Slugs.
The team’s first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opponent will be Occidental, whom the Leopards will host at 7 p.m. Dec. 5.
Joey Matsuzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.