CLAREMONT, Calif. — Hakim Arnold had 20 points and Cruz Mertens sank five three-pointers but the University of La Verne men's basketball team couldn't stop a hot-shoting Pomona-Pitzer team in a 79-63 loss at Voelkel Gymnasium on Saturday night.
La Verne falls to 9-15 overall and 7-8 in the SCIAC. Pomona-Pitzer improves to 11-12 and 6-9. With three teams tied at 7-8 for fourth place, two at 6-9 for fifth and another at 5-9, anything is possible for the last two tickets to the SCIAC Postseason Tournament. Redlands sits at 8-7 and the Leopards host the Bulldogs on Tuesday night.
The Leopards were outrebounded, 44-27, and outshot from the field and at the line. The Sagehens shot 49.2 percent from the field including 6-of-16 from long range and made 11-of-12 free throws. La Verne shot 39.3 percent and was just 7-for-13 from the free throw line.
Mitchel Finkel erased La Verne's four-point halftime lead with a pair of layups but a stolen inbound pass by Khaneal Mason led to a big slam by Arnold tied it back up and the teams traded leads a couple more times before Pomona-Pitzer pulled away late.
White then hit a three pointer from the left wing to give the Leopards a three-point cushion but Glenn Leininger hit a layup and Corbin Koch hit a three to take back the lead 57-55 for the Sagehens. Arnold pressured Gibson Farone-Collins, which turned into a steal by Mertens who then found Arnold for the transition layup.
The lead would change three more times before Daniel Rosebaum used the charity stripe to tie the game at 61-61 and the Sagehens went on a 9-0 run to take a 70-61 and never looked back.
The Leopards blew open the first half after dropping in seven threes, including five from Mertens who shot 56% for the half, but the Sagehens cut the lead to four by halftime behind 15 points from Gibson Farone-Collins.
Arnold finished 20 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals. Mertens had 17 and Evan Gustafson