Men's Basketball hangs tough at Southern Utah

Men's Basketball hangs tough at Southern Utah

CEDAR CITY, Utah — The University of La Verne men's basketball team outscored NCAA Division I Southern Utah in the second half but could not overcome a big first half deficit in a 105-85 on Thursday night at Centrum Arena.

La Verne falls to 2-4 and Southern Utah picks up its first win of the season to move to 1-5.

The Leopards were on fire in the second half, shooting a scorching 55.3 percent from the field including 9-of-17 from beyond the arc, and outscored the Thunderbirds, 57-51.

Nicholas Lewis put in 11 points in the second half while stroking three three-pointers and Cruz Mertens had nine points in the half while hitting a couple of tough, contested threes.

But Southern Utah had an answer for almost every La Verne basket. The Thunderbirds shot 53.6 percent in the first half themselves and drew a whopping 20 free throws, 18 of which they converted.

After digging themselves into a 54-28 hole in the first half, Mertens hit a pair of threes and Khaneal Mason hit one from outside to spark a run that halved the deficit to get the Leopards within 75-62 midway through the second half.

But the Thunderbirds used their individual athleticism advantage to get to the rim for easy layups and to draw fouls and kept the Leopards at bay the rest of the way.

White finished with a team-high 18 points and grabbed five rebounds. Lewis finished with 13 and Mertens had 12.

La Verne moved the ball well, finishing with 18 assists. Mason gave out a game-high eight assists to go along with six points and Tony Warwick dished about five in 11 minutes off the bench.

Trey Kennedy led all scorers with 20 points for Southern Utah and Travon Langston notched a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Seven Thunderbirds reached double digits.

La Verne will take an extended break before returning to action at home on Dec. 28 against Wis.-La Crosse.