Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College men's basketball team won their SCIAC home opener in front of a raucous crowd of 600 plus on a night full of halftime festivities as the Poets cruised to the 74-57 victory over the Kingsmen of Cal Lutheran University.
Whittier now runs their record to 9-4, 1-1 SCIAC, while Cal Lutheran drops to 4-8, 0-2 SCIAC.
Even with a scoreboard malfunction late in the first half, the Poets were able to maintain their poise and concentration to go into the halftime up 39-37 behind senior Drew Menez who tossed in nine of his 13 points going 4-of-7 from the field.
Coming out of halftime with a new scoreboard the Poets were ready to maintain their offensive prowess and it showed as they extended their lead to 15 nine minutes in. The Kingsmen did chip back into the lead to get within 10 but the Poets went on a 15-7 run late in the second half to secure the 17 point victory.
For the game, Whittier was led by senior Nathaniel Easterman who finished with 17 points on 6-of-14 shooting to go with six boards and three blocks. Down the stretch, Easterman turned away back to back shots of the Kingsmen inside of the paint that stopped a run and helped switch the momentum late in the second half.
For the game, Whittier forced 17 turnovers that turned into 22 points thanks to Kelly Johnson who had a game and season high seven steals pushing him into a tie for first place in the SCIAC standings with teammate Greg Preer. These points off of turnovers proved to be the difference in the victory down the stretch to go along with holding an advantage in bench scoring 21-14.
Despite being outrebounded 35-30, Whittier still had more second chance opportunities inside of the paint thanks to Tyree Landrum who hauled in seven boards, which helped turn into 14 points.
Cal Lutheran had three players reach double figures including Martin Flowers (17), Aaron Van Klaveren (13), and Mike Harris (12), while Van Klaveren recorded a double double hauling in 10 boards.
The Purple & Gold look to gain momentum from this evening's contest as they look ahead to this Saturday, January 14 as they travel to Occidental College to take on the Tigers with tipoff set for 7pm.