La Verne Catches CLU With Guard Down
The loss of forward Derrick Clark and point guard Dave Ulloa finally caught up with the Cal Lutheran men’s basketball team in Saturday night’s Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game.
The Kingsmen opened conference play with three consecutive victories, but without Clark and Ulloa, they lacked the quickness and firepower to keep up with La Verne in an 83-68 loss.
Clark, who was averaging a team-high 20.8 points and 6.3 rebounds, left the team before the start of SCIAC play after signing a one-year contract to play professionally in Australia.
Ulloa, who was averaging 12.7 points and a team-high 5.4 assists, missed his second consecutive game after breaking a bone on the middle finger of his right hand in practice last week. He is expected to be sidelined for another five weeks.
“Overall, their team quickness created a lot of problems for us,” first-year Kingsmen Coach Rich Rider said. “They’ve got several real good athletes and we just couldn’t keep up with them.”
Cal Lutheran (10-5, 3-1 in SCIAC play) did a decent job of containing the Leopards’ superior speed for the first fifteen minutes of the first half, but La Verne went on a 17-5 run over the last 4:30 to take a 45-35 lead at intermission.
Leonard Aguilar, who made all five of his shots and scored 12 points, started the surge with a three-point basket. Raphael Glover capped it with a two-handed dunk off a lob from Cedric Jones.
Jones, a 5-foot-7 junior from Amarillo, Tex., put on a ball-handling clinic toward the end of the run by dribbling through, around and past Cal Lutheran players for three consecutive layups.
The Kingsmen tried to regroup at halftime, but La Verne (11-4, 3-1) opened the second half with a 9-2 run to take a 54-37 lead with 17 minutes left. Cal Lutheran did not draw closer than 12 points after that.
“The last two-and-a-half minutes of the first half were crucial,” Rider said. “We committed a couple of turnovers and they took advantage. They upped the tempo and we just couldn’t do that.”
The Kingsmen were also without center/forward Paul LaMott for the final 3:21 of the first half, during which La Verne outscored Cal Lutheran, 12-5.
LaMott, who scored a team-high 17 points, took a brief rest after picking up his second foul. He tried to check back into the game shortly thereafter, but was unable to because play did not stop.
The loss ended Cal Lutheran’s six-game winning streak and put the Kingsmen in a five-way tie for first place.
Jon Rider, the coach’s son, scored 12 points for Cal Lutheran. Mike Fenton and Mark Heerema each added 11.
Aguilar scored 18 points for La Verne. Glover added 17 points and Jones had 14 points and 5 assists.