Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Wednesday night proved to be one of the most epic comebacks in program history for the Whittier College Men's Basketball team as they erased a 17-point second half deficit to stun the Kingsmen of Cal Lutheran University inside of Gilbert Arena.
Whittier snaps a three-game losing skid as they improve to 4-8, 2-1 SCIAC, while Cal Lutheran drops to 3-7, 1-2 SCIAC. The win also snaps an eight game losing skid to the Kingsmen. The Poets were 1-9 going into the match-up with their last win coming on the road on January 30, 2013 (56-55).
The Purple & Gold trailed by double digits at the 6:30 mark in the second half. Conner Longmire (Tarzana, Calif.) pulled the Poets within seven knocking down a triple and would follow that up with a layin and then another three-pointer capping off his own run of eight straight cutting the deficit to four with 4:21 to play.
Shortly after Ryan Henry (Fontana, Calif.) came up big knocking down a big three-pointer himself that pulled WC within one at 66-65 keeping the run intact but on CLU's next possession KJ Moffett would convert a jumper that stretched the lead back to three.
With 2:13 to play, Victor Nwaba (Los Angeles, Calif.) added one of the biggest shots on the evening deadlocking the game with a triple from dead on and that provided the spark the Poets needed as Longmire would connect from downtown along with four of the next six free throws for Whittier that secured the road victory.
Whittier managed to claw their way back to shoot a respectable 40% from the field and a 24% clip from behind the arc. Longmire went off with 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting with 15 of the points coming from deep and the charity stripe. He also added 10 boards, two assists, a steal, and a block. Nwaba added 12 points and Nick Potthoff (Phoenix, AZ) who got off to a slow start in the first half was able to finish with a double double going 10 points and 10 boards with four assists and two steals.
Jacob Aruta (Stockton, Calif.) found himself in the starting lineup with the absence of Louis Kurihara (Culver City, Calif.). He put up nine points in 19 minutes of action, while Joey Toyama (Pasadena, Calif.) added eight off the bench.
Whittier was big inside all night outrebounding the Kingsmen 44-32 and turned 14 CLU turnovers into nine points. Where the damage was done was on the bench as Whittier received 25 points from six different players, while CLU earned five.
It was a story of two halves as Whittier found themselves trailing by 12 at the break. But in the second they bounced back outscoring the Kingsmen 45-26 holding their second opponent on the season to 70 points.
Whittier looks to keep the momentum going as they host Occidental College in a big Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown this Saturday, January 6 beginning at 5:00pm.