Cal Lutheran Wins a Confidence-Builder


It certainly wasn’t the play that was called, but Derrick Clark’s three-point basket with five minutes 11 seconds left in Wednesday’s nonconference men’s basketball game between Cal Lutheran and Nebraska Wesleyan might be remembered as the shot that turned the season around for the host Kingsmen.

Cal Lutheran entered the contest saddled with a three-game losing streak, and a fourth consecutive loss might have proved fatal to the Kingsmen’s confidence. But Clark’s successful attempt as the shot clock expired began a 10-3 run that resulted in an 81-71 victory.

Cal Lutheran (5-4) led by 13 points twice in the first half, but the Kingsmen were clinging to a 63-61 lead when Clark--who had attempted only one three-point shot all season--found himself with the ball 21 feet away from the rim.


“I knew the clock was running down so I just tried to relax, get my legs under me, and let it go,” said Clark, who scored a career-high 31 points to go with eight rebounds and four steals.

After Nebraska Wesleyan (6-2) missed two shots, Clark made a short jump shot in the lane to give the Kingsmen a 68-61 lead with 4:43 remaining. Dave Ulloa’s fifth three-pointer gave Cal Lutheran a 71-62 advantage with 3:12 left.

Nebraska Wesleyan, the No. 7-ranked NCAA Division III team in the nation according to the Columbia Multimedia poll, didn’t get closer than seven points after that.

“This is a tremendous win for this program,” first-year Cal Lutheran Coach Rich Rider said. “This is the type of win that you can build on for the rest of the season. I think this team, which is very young in a lot of areas, came of age tonight. A win like this will do a lot for this team’s confidence.”

Ulloa scored a career-high 24 points, including 21 in the second half.

Center Justin Wilkins made 10 of 12 shots and finished with 21 points for Nebraska Wesleyan, which committed 16 turnovers.