P-P Basketball Falls in Final Seconds Against Cal Lu

Aaron Van Klaveren’s free throw with 1.3 seconds remaining broke a 46-46 tie and propelled the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen to victory over Pomona-Pitzer in a scrappy contest at Voelkel Gymnasium on Wednesday. Cal Lu overcame a nine-point halftime deficit in a game in which neither team shot well. The Sagehens made 18 of their 53 attempts of the night (34 percent) and one of 13 threes (eight percent), while the Kingsmen connected on 15 of their 49 shots from the field (31 percent) and three of 14 three-pointers (21 percent).

P-P jumped to an early 12-0 lead and kept the Kingsmen at bay through the second period, closing the half with a 27-16 lead. While the Sagehens began assertively, Cal Lu looked unsteady from the get-go, settling for contested looks at the basket and turning the ball over routinely in a stretch in which the home team seemed destined to run away with an easy win. At the start, P-P scored almost at will. The first five baskets were lay-ups, two of which came from point guard Evan Zahniser PO ’12. Zahniser was the only P-P player to end up in double figures, finishing with 13 points. His jumper from the corner with 1:07 left, which tied the game at 46, proved to be the last basket the Sagehens scored that night. Zahniser’s jump shot capped a back-and-forth final few minutes, following a 14-2 Kingsmen run.

Controversy marked the Kingsmen’s final possession of the night. With 36 seconds remaining, John Weiss PO ’14 stole an attempted post-entry pass on the baseline and appeared to be pushed out of bounds by a Cal Lu player.  No foul was called, however, and the ball was given back to Cal Lu. Also, the shot clock was reset, providing Cal Lu with the opportunity to play for the final shot of the game.

On the ensuing possession, Jayvaughn Nettles missed an off-balance runner from the left baseline. The ball was tipped around before falling to Van Klaveren, who was fouled on a difficult put-back attempt with 1.3 seconds on the clock. Van Klaveren made the first free throw to put Cal Lu up 47-46 and intentionally missed the second. Jake Klewer called an immediate timeout upon securing the rebound. With one second to play and the Sagehens needing to go the length of the court in order to score, Jack Klukas PO ’15 looked to make a deep, inbound pass. The player guarding Klukas deflected the pass, and the ball fell harmlessly in front of midcourt.        

Van Klaveren came into the game as the SCIAC’s leading scorer, registering 17.4 points per game. The smaller Sagehens frustrated the 6’8” center in the first half by double-teaming him to prevent the entry pass and bringing a third if he received the ball. Van Klaveren had as many turnovers as points in the half, tallying two of each. He heated up in the second half, scoring seven of his team’s first eight points and pulling down a series of crucial rebounds. Still, Van Klaveren was by no means dominant, primarily because he shot poorly from the line (6-11)—not surprising considering the high-arcing, side-spinning and hopeful free throws he sends toward the basket. Unfortunately for Sagehen fans, he made the most important of his attempts to go along with 12 total points and 15 rebounds.

Aside from the opening ten minutes of the game, in which they built a 17-4 lead, the Sagehens struggled to find their rhythm offensively. Speculative three-point tries, contested lay-ups and forced shots late in the shot clock characterized many of their sets. On two consecutive possessions near the end of the first half, big man Donald Okpalugo PO ’13 found himself with the ball isolated far from the basket and the shot clock running down. He buried a jumper on the first possession, and for missing on the next, he cannot be blamed.  The athletic Kyle McAndrews PO ’15 succeeded at getting into the lane but failed to finish in the second half, going 0-5. Klukas followed his spectacular Saturday 28-point effort with two points in the game. Jake Klewer PO ’14, Michael Cohen PO ’15 and Weiss also had off-nights.

With the loss, P-P falls to 12-8, 7-3 in conference play. They are now tied with Whittier for second place in the SCIAC. Cal Lu sits at 8-12 on the year and 4-6 in the conference.

Saturday, behind 28 points from Klukas, the Sagehens took care of a very good
Redlands squad by the score of 74-68 at home. Klukas shot
10 for 15 from the field and made five of nine three-pointers. Klewer added 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The Sagehens hope to rebound on Saturday with an away contest at LaVerne, a team they handled easily in their first match-up.

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