Leopards fail to rally for second half comeback against Cal Lutheran

Eric Esquibel
Staff Writer

The men’s basketball team won its first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game of the season Wednesday, beating the Redlands Bulldogs, 77-69. The win came just two days after suffering a 100-76 loss to the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen Monday night at the Frantz Athletic Court. 

The Leopards are now 1-9 on the year in SCIAC play and hope to stay on track to reach the conference tournament. 

“We got five games left in the season, we’re still in the hunt for a conference tournament berth. We just got to execute,” said Richard Reed, head coach. “When you’re in February or as you are getting closer to March, it’s all about execution. Effort is not enough, you have to be able to do both. Give great effort and then execute, we’re not doing that for 40 minutes.” 

At the start of Monday’s game, the Leopards won the opening tip off but both teams got off to a slow start. The Leopards started the game shooting 0-4 from the field and the Kingsmen started 1-4 from the field. Soon after, the Kingsmen started to get into rhythm as they went on a 16-5 run within the first seven minutes of the game. 

Despite the slow start for the Leopards, junior guard Brian Adams was able to put the team on the board with a spinning layup. This layup was the start of Adams’s hot streak for the rest of the game as he finished with a game-high of 22 points, four rebounds and one assist.

“One thing we wanted to change (this game) is just our energy and how we play, we want to come out head first and have the momentum at the start of the game,” Adams said, “We have to take one game at a time and build brick by brick, we have a new team. Every guy hasn’t played with each other in a long time but we’re working. Everyday is a new goal, so we’re just trying to take our time. Game by game, piece by piece.”

Halfway through the first period, the Leopards found themselves down 25-14 as the Kingsmen began to pull away, with a lead heading into the second half. However, the Leopards refused to give up as their offensive began to pick up. 

Down 39-21, the Leopards’ offense kept their hustle and rebounding going. Junior guard Brad Yasukochi had a fast drive to the basket and was able to find fellow junior guard Paul Antonis in the corner for an assist. Once Antonis drained the corner three pointer, the momentum started to shift heading into the second half. At the end of the first half, the Leopards went on a 12-6 run to bring themselves to within 12 of the Kingsmen. 

“I just noticed that if you play with higher energy yourself, the rest of the team follows,” said Antonis, who leads the Leopards in points this season. 

The second half started with the Leopards bringing down the Kingsmen’s lead to nine when senior forward Seth Shaw was fouled and hit a pair of free throws. 

Shaw saw far more minutes in the second half and helped get his team together. Coach Reed refers to Shaw as the team’s leader and when he’s on the floor he is the one constantly motivating his teammates. 

“I consider myself one of the leaders out there. I try to be one of the louder guys out there with Brian (Adams) as well, the team sees me as a leader so I try and do my job,” Shaw said.

After a back and forth play, the Kingsmen began to pull away with the lead as Cal Lutheran began to become hot from the 3-point line. The Leopards allowed them to shoot 57% from behind the arch. The Leopards soon found themselves in a significant deficit after failing to stop the streaking Kingsmen. Despite their hustle and rebounding, the Leopards struggled to erase the 29-point lead with just two minutes left in the game. 

The Leopards were unable to rally any sort of comeback despite the effort in the end of the first period and start of the second period. The Leopards fall short to the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen, 100-76. 

The Leopards’ Wednesday night win over the Bulldogs came from a strong second half showing after going into halftime tied 31-31. Shaw led the Leopards with 21 points in the victory.

The Leopards will return home to Frantz Athletic Court at 2 p.m. Saturday to face the Whittier Poets.

Eric Esquibel can be reached at eric.esquibel@laverne.edu.

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Eric Esquibel, a senior broadcast journalism major, is a staff writer for the Campus Times.

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