SPOKANE, Wash. — Anthony White and Kendall McClain caught fire to rally the University of La Verne men's basketball team against one of the best teams in the country, but an 18-point deficit proved too much to overcome for the Leopards in an 87-80 loss to No. 3 Whitworth on early Friday morning.
The game tipped off at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 13, the earliest possible start time for NCAA Division III schools.
The Pirates started the second half on a 16-2 to grab a 58-40 lead at the 14:47 mark and threated to pull away. But the Leopards battled back with hot shooting from the field get within 69-67. White sank three three-pointers and a layup, McClain chipped in 10 points and Brian Stivers hit a couple of layups during the stretch for the Leopards.
The Pirates responded with a 7-0 run to pull back ahead and kept the Leopards at an arm's length the rest of the way.
White and McClain both had career days. White scored a career-high 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting while knocking down six three-pointers and grabbed seven rebounds, also a career-high. McClain poured in a career-high 21 points while hitting six from beyond the arc.
La Verne had to fight back from another double-digit hole in the first half. A Derek Isaak three-pointer gave Whitworth a 41-29 with two minutes to go in the first half. But White answered with a layup on the next possession, McClain hit a three and White closed the half with a three of his own to pull the Leopards within 42-37 at the break.
George Valle led all players with 29 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in just 25 minutes. Kenny Love added 24 points.
The Leopards will wrap up their season opening road tip in Washington at Whitman on Saturday. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.