Photo by Chris Mora
But the La Verne men's basketball team couldn't overcome an early deficit and lost 78-73 to Caltech on Saturday at Sports Science and Athletic Pavilion.
The Beavers shot 50 percent from the field in the first half and took advantage of sloppy execution by the Leopards to get out to a 15-point lead in the first half. The Leopards committed eight turnovers in the opening frame and Caltech turned them into nine points while La Verne couldn't muster any points off turnovers.
La Verne regrouped at halftime and engineered a near-comeback. Mertens scored seven points to power an 11-0 La Verne run that got the Leopards got within 68-64 with just under three minutes to go.
A Kendall McClain trey cut the deficit to 70-67 but the Beavers stopped the bleeding with a short hook by Nasser Al-Rayes and after a La Verne turnover, Alec Andrews hit a 15-foot jumper to put Caltech up by seven with 1:22 left.
La Verne was efficient from the field in the second half, making 11 of 21 attempts while going 5-for-9 from beyond the arc, but it will rue missed opportunities at the free throw line. The Leopards earned 26 trips to the line in the second half but converted only 15 of them (57.7 percent).
Mertens finished with 15 points, four rebounds and two assists. Hakim Arnold scored 10 points and hauled in six rebounds.
Caltech's Ricky Galliani led all players with 21 points. Brent Cahill had 15 points off the bench and David Kawashima finished with 13 points.
The Leopards return to action on Thursday at No. 21 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.