LA VERNE, Calif. — The math was simple.
It was win or go home for the University of La Verne men's basketball team and the Leopards were in great shape, leading by as many as 17 points in the second half. But Redlands went on a 21-5 run to erase the deficit and went on to beat La Verne, 78-76, on Tuesday evening at Sports Science and Athletic Pavilion.
The Leopards finish the season 9-16 overall and 7-9 in the SCIAC. Redlands heads to the SCIAC Postseason Tournament with a 9-7 SCIAC record (12-13 overall).
Redlands made its move with about nine minutes to go when it was trailing, 65-50. The Bulldogs managed to get into the lane for some layups, Sean Milligan hit a couple of 3-pointers and Al Bjekovic punctuated the big run with a three that gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at the 3:05 minute mark.
Khaneal Mason responded with a three of his own from the left wing and Anthony White got open for a corner three to put the Leopards back up, 76-71, but Trevor Brown and Kyle Husslein hit right back with a three and a layup, respectively, to tie it at 76-76.
The Bulldogs then stripped Hakim Arnold as he was trying to get to his spot on the elbow and got a chance to win the game the last shot with 23 seconds left. Redlands dribbled the clock down and Joey Sponheim drove in from the right corner for a layup to give the Bulldogs a 78-76 lead with two seconds left on the clock.
The Leopards turned the ball over on the final play of the game.
La Verne jumped on Redlands early, starting the game on a 17-6 run and went into the break with a 38-25 lead.
The Leopards continued to play well through the early part of the second half as they sank six of the first nine shots of the half to take the biggest lead of the game at 52-35 with 13:30 left in the game.
Milligan had 20 points for Redlands and Bjekovic finished with 14.