Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Whittier College Men's Basketball team remained in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Post Season Tournament contention following late game heroics Saturday as they pulled off a 74-73 win over Occidental College.
Close games have been the story of the 2017-18 season for the Purple & Gold but they have managed to battle to a 10-13, 8-6 SCIAC record, have won five of their last six and currently sit in 5th in the SCIAC Standings.
The previous time the Poets and Tigers faced off, Whittier fell 84-72 at home on January 6. This time it was all Purple & Gold as they held a four-point advantage at the break before increasing that to a eight and holding on for the upset win over Occidental, handing them their third SCIAC loss on the season.
Late game heroics again fell on senior guard Louis Kurihara (Culver City, Calif.) who came down with 2.9 seconds remaining in the game, converting a jumper, while getting fouled. He then made the ensuing 'and on' free throw, which then sent WC to the upset road victory.
It's the second time this season Kurihara has been in the spotlight after he made a game winning three-pointer against the University of Redlands, while being fouled that sent the Poets to the one-point victory.
With :31 seconds remaining in the game, Whittier saw themselves trailing 73-69 following a made jumper from Ryan Kaneshiro. Eric Davis (Ventura, Calif.) then came down on the Poets next possession and added a lay-in, which took six seconds, pulling Whittier within two and then came up big on the defensive end. He blocked Zach Baines as he went up for a two handed jam giving WC another possession, which they capitalized on as Kurihara would come down and convert the game-winning 'and one'.
Whittier held an eight-point lead in second half but saw Oxy storm back erasing that deficit before going on top by six with 7:15 to play. But back-to-back triples from Ryan Henry (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) and Kurihara with under 4:00 minutes to play would set the stage for the epic finish.
Victor Nwaba (Los Angeles, Calif.) finished the game with 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Kurihara finished with 20 points and was 7-of-14, which included a 3-for-6 effort from three-point territory. Henry played 22 minutes in the starting lineup and added 11 points and Nick Potthoff (Phoenix, AZ) led the rebounding effort with 13 boards, three assists, three blocks and four points.
Davis had an impressive stat line across the board with eight points, six boards, six assists, a steal and three blocks and Reggie Dixon (Oxnard, Calif.) finished with six points off the bench.
Whittier shot 43% from the field and 42% from behind the arc. They were outrebounded 39-34 and turned the ball over just 10 times. They produced 18 points in the paint and had 16 second chance points, while shooting 75% from the charity stripe.
Whittier returns home to the Graham Athletic Center for their final two games beginning with Claremont-M-S this Wednesday, February 14 with tip-off set for 7:00pm.