LA VERNE, Calif. — A flurry of second half 3-pointers by UC Santa Cruz cost the University of La Verne men's basketball team in a 70-65 loss on Tuesday at Sports Science and Athletic Pavilion.
La Verne drops to 2-6 and UCSC moves to 4-10.
The Banana Slugs scored nine unanswered points on three 3-pointers to take a 59-50 lead and never looked back. The Leopards climbed back from a 13-point first-half deficit to tie the game but Andrew Jones hit two straight from beyond the arc and Adam Marlow pulled up from straightaway.
La Verne responded with a 7-0 run of its own to pull within 59-57 and a Khaneal Mason layup off a nifty pass from Evan Gustafson kept the Leopards within two points but just could not find a tying bucket.
Gustafson had perhaps the best all-around game of his young career. He had nine points, including a pair of three-point plays, and played good post defense using his strength. He also had four rebounds and an assist.
Mason finished with 10 points, four rebounds and four assists. Hakim Arnold led La Verne in scoring with 13 points and pulled down six rebounds.
Sam Gabbard led all players with 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Banana Slugs. Will Crain added 10 points and seven rebounds.
UCSC threatened to pull away early as it jumped out to an 18-5 lead to start the game but the Leopards clawed back in the game with an 11-0 run keyed by a couple of layups by Connor Head off dribble drives.
Arnold made two of his trademark elbow jumpers off the bounce to give the Leopards their first and only lead early in the second half but La Verne could not sustain the momentum.
La Verne returns to action on Saturday when it opens SCIAC play at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.