La Verne Edges Bearcats 88-87 on Shot with 1.6 Seconds Left

Hayden Russell (Jr., W, Woodland, CA/Da Vinci Charter Academy)
Hayden Russell (Jr., W, Woodland, CA/Da Vinci Charter Academy)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

SALEM, Ore. -- Hakim Arnold scored on a 6-foot jumper with 1.6 seconds left to send University of La Verne past Willamette University, 88-87, in a non-conference men's basketball game on Friday, Dec. 9 at Cone Field House. La Verne improved to 4-1 on the season. Willamette fell to 1-7.

The game featured 14 ties and 12 lead changes. There were 10 ties and nine lead changes in the second half.

Jordan Stokes led La Verne with 29 points and also grabbed eight rebounds. He was 12 of 17 from the field. Arnold added 23 points and game-high 13 rebounds.

Johnny Verduin (Sr./So., F, Seattle, WA/Ballard HS) of Willamette scored 20 points and was 8 of 11 on field goals. Hayden Russell (Jr., W, Woodland, CA/Da Vinci Charter Academy) tacked on 16 points, while Casey Thornton (Jr., F, Santa Rosa, CA/Maria Carrillo HS) scored 13 points for the Bearcats.

Nico Troplent (Jr., W, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS) and Trent Callan (So., G, Portland, OR/Lincoln HS) each finished with nine points for Willamette. Troplent led WU with seven rebounds.

Willamette held an 87-82 lead after a driving layup by Russell with 1:26 left. La Verne rallied by scoring the game's final six points.

Arnold sank two free throws to begin the rally with 1:17 on the clock. After Thornton missed a jumper for the Bearcats with 54 seconds left, Khaneal Mason of La Verne cut the lead to a single point on a layup at the 46-second mark.

Willamette called a timeout with 37 seconds to go. Nico Troplent (Jr., W, Los Angeles, CA/Cathedral HS) took a 3-point shot with 22 seconds left, but the shot missed and Mason grabbed the rebound for ULV.

After a timeout by La Verne with 12 seconds remaining, the Leopards kept the ball until Arnold's game-winning shot.

Russell caught the ensuing in-bounds pass about 40 feet up the court for the Bearcats. He shot from the mid-court line in time to beat the buzzer, but the ball just missed to the right of the basket.

In the first half, La Verne led 13-6 after a layup by Evan Gustafson with 15:07 left. Willamette rallied to tied the score 13-13 at the 12:49 mark on a steal and layup by Conin Oishi (Jr., G, Lake Forest Park, WA/Shorecrest HS). 

The Leopards added a free throw by Stokes, before Willamette tacked on four consecutive points to claim a 17-14 lead on a layup by Thornton with 11:56 to go.

Willamette owned a 26-22 advantage on a jumper by Verduin as the clock reached 8:29. La Verne tallied the next four points for the second tie of the half. The game also was tied two more times, before WU took a 35-32 lead on a 3-pointer by Russell with 3:52 left.

The Bearcats extended the lead to seven points three times later in the half, including 45-38 with 17 seconds remaining on a layup by Callan. Stokes hit a jumper with two seconds left to pull the Leopards within 45-40 at the break.

La Verne opened the second half with a 16-7 run to take a 56-52 lead at the 13:44 mark. The offensive surge included five points by Arnold on 5-of-6 shooting at the free throw line.

WU answered with five unanswered points on a 3-pointer by Callan and a layup by Verduin to move back in front, 57-56.

Later, the Bearcats claimed a five-point lead at 73-68 with 8:04 remaining when Thornton hit a 3-point shot. The Leopards scored the next five points to earn the 12th tie of the game.

After two more ties, ULV took a slim 80-79 advantage on a free throw by Mason with 4:58 left. Willamette edged in front on a jumper by Verduin, whose basket started a 6-0 run. Verduin scored the second basket of the run on a jumper, while Troplent completed the run with a jumper at the 2:40 mark to give WU an 85-80 margin.

Willamette shot 49.2% for the game (31 of 63) and made 5 of 15 three-pointers (33.3%). The Bearcats excelled at the line, as they connected on 20 of 23 free throws (87.0%).

La Verne hit 53.1% of its shots (34 of 64), by going 17 of 32 in each half. The Leopards hit 2 of 8 three-pointers and made 18 of 32 free throws (56.3%). La Verne outrebounded Willamette 44-27, but committed 20 turnovers, while WU lost the ball 14 times.

The Bearcats will play again on Tuesday, Dec. 20, when they host Alma College (Mich.). Game time at Cone Field House is set for 2 p.m. (PST).