THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - After splitting the season series with each team winning on its home court, the Cal Lutheran men's basketball team continued the trend with a 92-79 victory over La Verne inside Gilbert Arena in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Postseason Tournament Semifinals on Friday night.
Hosting its first SCIAC tournament game since the 2007-08 season, the Kingsmen came out with a lot of energy, sparked by Caleb Richey who opened the game with a quick layup followed by a three-pointer for CLU.
The two highest scoring teams in the league battled back and forth early on, staying within one possession of each other until a 7-0 run gave the Kingsmen a 30-23 lead midway through the first half. Kyle Ferreira highlighted the run with a three-pointer while Kenneth Moffett was instrumental in the low post and provided eight first half points off the bench.
A small run by the Leopards cut the Violet and Gold lead to five, 42-37, heading into the break.
Three-point baskets by Blake Miles and Wolfgang Wood to start the second half helped the Kingsmen create some separation on the scoreboard and with a 62-49 lead, Richey scored eight straight points for CLU to jump start a 10-0 run.
After a deep three-pointer to bring the crowd to its feet, Moffett kept them standing after a sensational breakaway dunk. Wood followed with a three-pointer at the top of the key on the next possession, and Richey capped of the run with a layup to give the Kingsmen a 75-55 lead with 9:50 remaining.
Over the next six minutes, La Verne would go on a 20-9 run to cut the deficit to single digits, 84-75, but the lead was too much to overcome.
The Kingsmen forced 19 La Verne turnovers while limiting themselves to just six, including zero in the first half. That translated to 26 points off turnovers compared to just four for the Leopards. For the game, CLU shot 53.8 percent (35-for-65) from the field and 58.3 percent (7-for-12) from downtown. La Verne shot 50 percent (32-for-64) from the field but shot just 18.8 percent (3-for-16) from beyond the arc.
Richey led the Violet and Gold with a team-high 21 points while dishing out seven assists and grabbing six rebounds. Miles racked up 19 points and was solid on the defensive end with a pair of blocks. Moffett notched 15 on 5-for-6 shooting while Wood tallied 14 and Ferreira also reached double figures with 11.
La Verne was led by Hakim Arnold, who had a big game with 24 points and 15 rebounds, along with Jordan Stokes who also added a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Anthony White finished with 19 points.
In the other semifinal matchup tonight, top-seeded Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (21-4) defeated No. 4 seed and rival Pomona-Pitzer (14-12), 70-64, in a comeback thriller to advance to the finals. The Stags and Kingsmen will square off tomorrow, Feb. 25, at 7:00 p.m. inside Roberts Pavilion with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.
Video and Live Stats will be available for the game and tickets will be sold at the entrance. Children under the age of 12 as well as students, faculty and staff with ID will receive free admittance. Tickets for seniors (55 and older) and veterans will be $5 while admission for all others is $10.
Box Score: CLU 92, LV 79
Tournament Central: 2017 SCIAC Men's Basketball Tournament
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