Struggles on both sides of the court plagued the Leopards as they dropped their final home game of the season to Caltech, 59-46, on Wednesday night at Frantz Athletic Court.
This was the 20th straight defeat for the men’s basketball team, a squad that has struggled to find any momentum throughout the season.
Wednesday night’s loss drops the Leopards to a 1-22 overall record this season and 0-14 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Both teams battled early in the first half, exchanging shots, and keeping the score close.
The Leopards took their first lead of the game with 14 minutes left in the half, when sophomore guard Tevin McClain hit an open three-point shot to make the score 8-6.
The game maintained a high level of competition throughout most of the first half.
Caltech began to pull away after sophomore guard Marcus Gee sank a wide open three-point attempt with 5:16 left in the half to give Caltech a 25-22 lead.
The score would not get any closer for the remainder of the contest.
Caltech’s defense tightened late in the first half and gave the Leopards trouble for the duration of the contest.
Their defense made it difficult for the Leopards to find any space around the three-point arc, forcing the offense to often make forced shots from the perimeter.
La Verne showed periods of potential on offense.
Great ball movement and spacing allowed junior guard Luke Edwards to knock down an open three from downtown.
Unfortunately, the score was 45-33 at the time. Caltech had already all but run away with the victory.
Edwards, who scored his career high of 29 points against UC Santa Cruz on Saturday, was unable to find the same shooting success in this game.
“I mean it’s kind of anything with a conference opponent, they know what your tendencies and your strong points are as a team,” Edwards said. “It’’s up to the team to kind of counter that and play how we should in order to get the win. We just didn’t do that.”
Senior forward Evan Gustafson was a bright spot for the Leopards during the night, scoring 10 points and grabbing eight rebounds in his final home game at Frantz Athletic Court.
“It honestly kind of just hit me as the final buzzer went off that I probably won’t play here again, but looking back on it, I have a lot of great memories doing it, and happy I made the decision to come here,” Gustafson said.
Although he has also played his final home game at Frantz Athletic Court, senior guard Alec Vucinich is focused on the final two games of the season.
“It still hasn’t really hit yet. We have a couple of games left, still focused on that. When the season ends, kind of reflect on it a little bit,” Vucinich said.
The Leopards will travel to face Chapman at 4 p.m. Saturday, then close out the season at Redlands at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Despite how this season has gone, head coach Richard Reed continues to keep the team focused and working toward the next game.
“All that stuff you read in the newspaper or on TV, about, you know, playing for next year, we don’t talk about that here,” Reed said. “We hope the sun comes up tomorrow, we hope we have another opportunity to compete, we have another opportunity to be together, we have another chance to get better.”
Christopher Livingston can be reached at email@example.com.