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Arnold leads La Verne past Redlands, 87-84

LA VERNE, Calif. — Hakim Arnold shook off an early foul trouble to score 17 points in the second half and the La Verne men's basketball team beat Redlands 87-84 on Thursday night at Sports Science and Athletic Pavilion.

Arnold was held scoreless in the first half in only four minutes as he committed three early fouls. But the senior never lost composure and scored all of his points in the second half, making clutch shots down the stretch.

With the Leopards (14-7, 8-4 Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) holding on to a five point lead with less than two minutes to go, Arnold drove to the basket and completed a 3-point play to stop a 7-0 Redlands run. The Bulldogs then hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to cut the lead to 85-82 but Arnold came back with his trademark midrange jumper to put the Leopards back up by five with 19 seconds left.

"Hakim is a senior and he's been in this situation before," La Verne coach Richard Reed said of Arnold's perfomance. "I told him not to rush things in the second half and let his frustrations get to him so I'm proud of the poise he showed."

Redlands (7-14, 3-9) did get one final chance. After Arnold's last basket, Kyle Husslein hit a layup to get the Bulldogs within three and the Leopards couldn't execute the inbounds pass, which led to a jump ball with the arrow pointing to Redlands with 3.3 seconds left. However, La Verne defended the final play perfectly and forced Joey Sponheim to airball a 3-point attempt.

"We didn't play the situations right at the end of the game," Reed said. "We have to match up in transition and we have to start making foul shots or it's gonna be a long year for us." 

Redlands grabbed the early edge as they took advantage of La Verne's eight first half turnovers and created extra possessions with offensive rebounds. The Bulldogs led by as many as nine points but the Leopards closed the first half on a 8-3 run aided by a pair of 3-pointers from Anthony White to cut the deficit to 43-40 lead going into the break.

The teams exchanged leads to start the second half before the Leopards grabbed control about midway through the frame. La Verne was down 59-55 at the 11:55 mark before Evan Gustafson made an easy layup, White sank a trey and Arnold hit a pair of shots to give the Leopards a 64-59 lead.

White finished with a game-high 23 points for La Verne and Connor Head chipped in 11.

Sponheim led the Bulldogs with 16 and Trevor Baker finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.

The Leopards are back in action on Saturday at home against No. 14 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

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