SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Four players scored at least 12 points apiece for the University of La Verne men's basketball team but the Leopards uncharacteristically committed too many turnovers and it cost them in a 77-71 loss to UC Santa Cruz on Friday night at Kaiser Permanante Arena.
La Verne falls to 8-9 overall and UCSC moves to 7-14.
The Leopards, who had averaged under nine turnovers per game in the previous eight contests, gave the ball away 18 times tonight which turned into 22 points on the other end for the Banana Slugs.
Anthony White paced La Verne's offense with 17 points and grabbed six rebounds. Cruz Mertens sank four 3-pointers en route to 16 points and Hakim Arnold recorded 13 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals. Jordan Stokes chipped in 12 points.
Sam Gabbard scored 25 points and had seven rebounds to lead all players in both categories for UCSC. Kyle Creighton tallied 17 points and six rebounds off the bench.
La Verne got out to a 28-19 lead with 5:01 left in the first half but the Banana Slugs closed the frame out on a 13-2 run to wrestle the lead back going into the break.
UCSC pulled away midway through the second half with a 12-3 run that stretched its lead to 56-43. The Leopards battled back within 66-60 as Mertens, Kendall McClain and White each hit a trey and another three by Khaneal Mason cut the deficit to 75-71 with 16 seconds to go. The Leopards forced a turnover on the next possession but couldn't generate a clean look.
Foul shots were a factor. The Banana Slugs earned 24 free throws and made 23 of them to hold on for the win. La Verne only drew 10 free throws, making eight of them.
The Leopards jump back into SCIAC action on Monday at Chapman.