LA VERNE, Calif. — Four players reached double digits in scoring for the University of La Verne men's basketball team as the Leopards beat Cal Lutheran, 77-75, on Saturday afternoon at Sports Science and Athletic Pavilion.
La Verne improves to 4-7 overall and 2-1 in the SCIAC. Cal Lutheran falls to 5-5 and 1-2.
The win is second for the Leopards against 2015 SCIAC tri-championship teams (Chapman, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps) in the first three conference games of the season. La Verne beat CMS on the road on Jan. 2.
"We figured out a way to get it done," La Verne head coach Richard Reed said. "We just found a way. Different guys stepped up at different opportunities."
Hakim Arnold, who struggled with foul trouble early in each of the halves, took control late to lead the Leopards through the finish line. The junior scored each of La Verne's final four baskets in the game to keep the Kingsmen at bay. After a pair of free throws by Connor McGuire got the Kingsmen within three points with 1:18 left, Arnold sank a jumper to make it a two-possession game and went coast-to-coast off his own defensive rebound for a dagger layup.
Arnold scored 14 points—all of them in the second half—and hauled in 12 rebounds to notch his third double-double in a row.
Kendall McClain jumpstarted the La Verne offense in the first half, going a perfect 3-for-3 for 10 points in the first half and finished with 12 for the game. After going through a tough stretch of games, McClain has now reached double figures in the last two games, shooting 64.2 percent.
La Verne's big men stepped up off the bench in the first half as the starters were limited to 17 combined points. Evan Gustafson bullied the Kingsmen inside as he scored eight points, Nicholas Lewis added eight and Jordan Stokes pitched in six points in the first half.
"I thought Evan and Nick were the real key to the game," Reed said. "Evan fought trying to get into shape early in the year as most freshmen do but he's a good player. He plays hard, he's always in the right spots and he always does the right things. ... I think it's a testament to his work ethic."
The Leopards outscored the Kingsmen, 42-24, in the paint.
La Verne's offense was ultra efficient for the third game in a row. La Verne shot 47.6 percent from the field and committed just seven turnovers. The Leopards are shooting 46.8 percent and averaging under nine turnovers over the first three SCIAC games.
Dan Wade scored a game-high 22 points and Sam Cirillo had 19, but didn't get much else from others.
The Leopards return to action on Monday at home against Chapman.