The Cal Lutheran men's basketball team failed to capitalize on a poor shooting night by Otterbein in an NCAA Division III sectional semifinal Friday, dropping an 82-78 decision at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn.
Otterbein (27-3) entered the game ranked fourth nationally in Division III with a shooting percentage of 52.6%. Although Otterbein made just 22 of 56 shots (39%), Cal Lutheran could not take advantage.
Four Otterbein players scored in double figures, led by Larry Laisure (29 points) and Jerry Dennis (18).
Cal Lutheran's Jeff deLaveaga almost single-handedly kept the Kingsmen in the contest, scoring a game-high 38 points, or nearly half of the team's total.
With the Kingsmen trailing, 61-53, Dewayne Chatman scored with 8 minutes 5 seconds left and was fouled. He converted the free throw that cut the lead to 61-56, then scored again to pare the lead to three with 5:54 left.
After an Otterbein timeout, Laisure made a three-point shot to extend the lead to six and Cal Lutheran (16-12) never recovered.
"Give a lot of credit to their guard, Larry Laisure," Cal Lutheran Coach Mike Dunlap said. "He played a heckuva game. On a couple of occasions when we drew within three he hit a key three-pointer or a free throw."
Laisure made four of four free throws in the final 30 seconds to help Otterbein maintain its cushion.
DeLaveaga made 13 of 25 shots from the field, including eight of 16 from three-point range. Cal Lutheran made 28 of 65 shots (43%). DeLaveaga, a senior, finished with 2,248 career points to rank second behind his brother Steve (2,549 points) on the Kingsmen scoring list.
Simon O'Donnell, who had 14 points, was the only other Cal Lutheran player to finish in double figures.
Cal Lutheran rallied several times but could not get over the hump. With 15:05 left, the Kingsmen trailed, 49-39, but Paul Tapp scored and deLaveaga sank a pair of three-point shots to trim the deficit to 52-47.
Otterbein held off Cal Lutheran by making 31 of 40 free throws; Cal Lutheran made 13 of 19.
"They called (it) a lot closer than we were accustomed to," Dunlap said about the officials. "We are a physical team and like contact."
Center Kelly Crosby, the third-leading scorer for Cal Lutheran with a 7.5-point average, was limited to three points.
"Crosby is an important part of our team, but he didn't have one of his better games," Dunlap said. "Things just didn't happen for him."
Despite the loss, Dunlap felt the positives of the season outweighed the negatives. Cal Lutheran upset defending West regional champion UC San Diego, 88-70, in the second round. San Diego was ranked third in Division III, had beaten Cal Lutheran twice and was riding a 17-game winning streak.
"There were a lot of firsts," Dunlap said. "First time in the NCAA playoffs, first SCIAC championship, first back-to-back winning seasons for the program.
"It was a good steppingstone for the future."