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Men's Basketball tops Oglethorpe to open season

Men's Basketball tops Oglethorpe to open season

LA VERNE, Calif. — Hakim Arnold flirted with a triple-double, Anthony White scored 22 points and the University of La Verne men's basketball team topped Oglethorpe in a barnburner, 98-92, to open the season on Tuesday night at Sports Science and Athletic Pavilion.

Arnold, a 2015-16 First Team All-SCIAC selection, scored 22 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out seven assists.

White overcame a slow start to pour in 20 points in the second half while knocking down some huge shots down the stretch.

The Leopards were clicking on all cylinders on offense, shooting 50 percent from the field including 14-of-32 from beyond the arc. The Leopards also gave out 25 assists while committing just nine turnovers.

But as well as La Verne played offensively, it went through some poor stretches on defense. The Leopards went up by or near double digits on a couple of different occasions but allowed the Stormy Petrels to get back in the game before pulling away at the end.

"I saw exactly what I thought I'd see," La Verne head coach Richard Reed said. "I knew we could score the ball. I'm a little concerned about our defense but on most nights we're going to have a chance to score some points."

Oglethorpe pulled within 71-69 with about seven minutes left in the game but White hit back-to-back three pointers and and Arnold scored on one of his trademark pull-up jumpers to put the Leopards up by 10 points.

The Stormy Petrels responded with a 7-0 run to get back within one possession but Evan Gustafson hit a little hook from the right block and finished off a transition opportunity off an Oglethorpe miss to give the Leopards an 86-79 lead.

Cruz Mertens converted an and-1 to give the Leopards a 92-83 lead with 45 seconds left and La Verne made just enough free throws to seal the win.

"We hadn't played since Nov. 4 (scrimmage against NCAA Division I Southern Utah) so it took us a while to shake off some of the rust," Reed said. "I'd like to see what our offense can do if we stop committing some of the silly turnovers ... and we obviously have to work on our foul shots but it's a pretty good start to the season for us."

Mertens scored all 16 of his points in the second half to help La Verne keep pace with Oglethorpe and hit four three pointers.

Kendall McClain was on fire to start the game, scoring 15 points on 5-of-8 three pointers in the first half before handing off the baton to Mertens.

Connor Head filled out the stat sheet, tallying 14 points, six rebounds, eight assists and two blocks.

Justin Edwards, Drew Patrick and Connor Smith all broke 20-points for Oglethorpe and Chris Lawrence added 12, but the Stormy Petrels didn't get much from anyone else.

The Leopards return to action on Sunday at home against Wisconsin Lutheran.

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