SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — Juan Eason II finished with double-figure points but the University of La Verne men's basketball team couldn't overcome a late first half run by Pacific Lutheran, dropping their opening game of the Mission Inn Thanksgiving Classic inside Kaiser Permanente Arena, 66-52.
After falling behind 12-3 early in the game, the Leopards went on an 18-4 run to pull ahead of the Lutes. Eason drained one of his three buckets from beyond the arc to cut the Lutes' lead to one. Cole Currie sank a jumper to give the Leopards their first lead of the game at 13-12 seven and a half minutes into the game.
After Pacific Lutheran came back to tie the game 21-21 the Lutes went on a run of their own to take a 31-23 lead at the half.
La Verne made a push in the second half, forcing the Lutes into 12 turnovers in the last 20 minutes. But Pacific Lutheran shot 48.3 percent in the half to stay ahead of the Leopards.
La Verne finished with 22 points off turnovers and got 23 points off the bench led by Eason's team-high eleven points.
Victor Costa led the Leopards with seven boards to go with eight points, two blocks, and a steal.
Connor Head and Currie each added seven points.
Next Game: The Leopards finish the Mission Inn Classic tomorrow with a 3 p.m. tip-off against Willamette.