Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
WHITTIER, Calif. – The Whittier College Men's Basketball team attempted to upset Pomona-Pitzer Wednesday night inside of the Graham Athletic Center but couldn't hold on late as the Sagehens would pull off the 77-75 victory.
Whittier was looking to win their fourth straight but now drop to 5-9, 2-3 SCIAC, while Pomona-Pitzer improves to 12-1, 4-0 SCIAC.
With :21 seconds remaining in the game and the Poets down three 75-72, Conner Longmire (Tarzana, Calif.) came up big providing a layup in the lane, while being fouled. He would then go on to convert the three-point play the old fashion way that tied things up at 75-75. The next time down the floor Pomona-Pitzer elected to play rather than call a timeout and it paid off as Micah Elan would pull up with a step-back jumper near the elbow that would put PP up 77-75 with :03 seconds to play. After an in-bounds pass to Longmire, he would get a shot off at half court, but his ensuing look would just miss allowing Pomona-Pitzer to escape with the victory.
Four poets were in double figures led by Nick Potthoff (Phoenix, AZ) with 18 on 5-of-8 shooting with six boards. Kenyatta Louder (Compton, Calif.) added 17 points with seven rebounds and Joey Toyama (Pasadena, Calif.) and Longmire each added 11 points off the bench. Longmire also picked up seven rebounds and a pair of steals, while Toyama was 4-for-9 from the field, which included a 3-for-7 mark from behind the arc.
Whittier shot 39.7% from the field and 30% from three-point territory. They turned it over just eight times and were deadlocked with rebounds 38-38. What proved crucial down the stretch were free throws. Whittier was 16-for-25 (64%), which included a 7-for-11 effort in the second half.
The game included six ties and ten lead changes with the largest lead being eight, which was held by Pomona-Pitzer midway through the first half. It was a battle all night to get any separation. A 6-0 run early by PP was short-lived as WC would rattle off an 8-2 run that cut the deficit to three. The Sagehens led 21-15 with 9:50 to play in the half but after that Toyama connected from deep twice followed by a Potthoff triple that deadlocked the game at 24-24.
A couple minutes later Louder got into the mix connecting from deep that put WC on top 27-25. He provided a jumper on the Poets' next possession, which then led to a pair of free throws from Potthoff. Over the final few minutes in the first half Whittier was able to stay on top with Ahmad Young (Sunnyvale, Calif.) converting a layin followed by Ryan Mendez (Whittier, Calif.) and Journey Shank (Burbank, Calif.) each going 1-for-2 from the charity stripe giving WC a 38-34 lead at the break.
The second half provided the fireworks. PP battled early to tie things up at 43-43 after the first three minutes and then took a lead 46-43 after a Corbin Koch three-pointer. Potthoff answered from deep to give WC back the lead at 52-50 but saw the momentum swing again as Pomona-Pitzer would get Daniel Rosenbaum connecting from deep along with a fastbreak dunk giving PP a 58-54 advantage.
But with tons of time left Whittier battled back with Potthoff adding a corner pocket three-pointer followed by a Toyama jumper that kept the Poets in striking distance. Toyama then converted a deep three that pulled Whittier within one at 65-64 and that then led to Longmire knocking down another triple and then 1-of-2 free throws that gave the Poets a 68-65 lead.
After a two-minute defensive stretch on both sides Longmire added a layin with 4:56 to play that made it a five-point game. But after that it was all PP putting up a 10-2 run over the next two minutes that gave them a 75-72 advantage, which they would use to hold on for the victory.
Whittier remains at home this Saturday, January 12 as they host Caltech beginning at 7:00pm.