Cal Lutheran Puts the Hurt on Pomona-Pitzer, 73-66
In a 20-minute span the day before the Cal Lutheran men’s basketball team played Pomona-Pitzer, the Kingsmen’s chances for victory appeared to vanish before Rich Rider’s eyes.
First, the team learned reserve guard Greg Nagle would miss Wednesday night’s game because of walking pneumonia.
Then, Mark Heerema, the Kingsmen’s second-leading scorer, arrived for Tuesday’s practice with the flu.
And leading scorer Dave Ulloa injured a rib in practice Monday. The pain was so severe he had to be taken to the hospital Tuesday.
“I was beginning to wonder if we would have any players left,” Rider said.
Heerema and Ulloa weren’t 100% for the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game against the Sagehens, but they were healthy enough to help lead Cal Lutheran to a 73-66 victory.
Despite being frequently spelled to conserve energy, Ulloa scored 21 points and Heerema added 11 to complement a 22-point effort by swingman Jon Rider.
“It didn’t hurt much when I was playing but it hurt a lot more when I was sitting,” Ulloa said. “It was hard to get back into it after sitting.”
Cal Lutheran (12-4, 4-1) earned a share of first place in the SCIAC with Pomona-Pitzer (9-6, 4-1), defending SCIAC champion.
Both Heerema and Ulloa hit key shots in the final minutes as the Kingsmen never trailed but saw a double-digit lead evaporate three minutes into the second half.
The Kingsmen led at halftime, 39-28, but Pomona-Pitzer scored the first eight points after intermission, then could get no closer.
“Coach told us it was going to be a game of runs,” Ulloa said. “We just needed to get the longest and biggest ones.”
Jake Guadnola scored 19 points and Derrick Quinet added 17 for the Sagehens.
Cal Lutheran started strong, scoring the first five points and building an 18-6 lead seven minutes into the game.
The Sagehens chipped away at the lead, pulling to within 27-23 with just under six minutes left.
After a two-minute scoreless stretch, the Kingsmen responded with a basket by Andy Saint and a three-pointer by Rob Beckerley to push the lead back to nine just before halftime.