The men’s basketball team’s three-game winning streak came to an end Wednesday night against a hot Occidental team, by a score of 61-49.
The Leopards came into this game with three big wins against Pomona-Pitzer, Caltech, and Cal Lutheran.
La Verne started the game in a three-way tie for first place with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Redlands.
Occidental came into the game with a two-game winning streak, one of the wins coming against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Saturday.
Before Wednesday’s game, Occidental had won four of there last five games.
“Occidental is on fire,” junior guard Trevor Woodland said.
With only five games left in the regular season, the Leopards were looking to add another game to their winning streak.
With a slow start the Leopards saw themselves fighting back the whole first half.
They battled their way back into the game, and pulled within four points with about nine minutes remaining in the first half.
With two key players sick with the flu, it was tough for the Leopards to come back.
“We came out with no energy and didn’t respect their game,” Woodland said.
It was a back and forth battle in the first half with both teams playing strong defense. At the half, the Leopards found themselves down 26-19.
The Leopards came back with more energy and got a big three pointer from junior forward Tyler Hoyt to start the second half.
La Verne tied it up at 26 in the first minutes of the second half, but Occidental then came back to take the lead with 11 minutes remaining.
“We didn’t execute our game,” sophomore guard Jeremy Lay said.
With five minutes remaining in the game, Occidental went up by five points, and then never looked back.
“We were dead as a team,” Hoyt said.
La Verne shot 17-48 from the field, while Occidental shot 24-54 from the field.
“We did not follow the coaches’ game plan,” Woodland said. “We need to bounce back from this loss, it’s going to be a dog fight to make it to the conference tournament.”
After the loss, La Verne now finds itself in third place, as Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Redlands pulled out a victory Wednesday night.
“We need to come out strong on Saturday,” Woodland said.
The Leopards face CMS at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Claremont.
“This is going to be a big game, we need to come out strong as a team,” Hoyt said.
With only four games remaining, the Leopards will to regain momentum and find a way to make it to the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament that starts Feb. 25.
La Verne will face first place CMS at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Claremont.
Cheryl Regan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.