On Senior Night, the California Lutheran University men’s basketball team took on the University of La Verne in their final game of the 2017-2018 season, edging out the Leopards 79-77 inside of Gilbert Arena.
Before the start of the game, the Kingsmen honored lone senior guard KJ Moffett with a photo op with family and friends while he received a framed portrait of a snapshot of him playing in the violet and gold.
Moffett will finish his senior season with a 55.2 shooting percentage, making more than half his shots and scoring 268 points, while adding 92 rebounds and 54 assists.
“It felt good, I’ve given everything I’ve had to this program and just to have that moment to take it all in and being able to think back on it and I enjoyed it a lot,” Moffett said.
Head Coach of the Kingsmen Tim Fusina expressed his gratitude towards Moffett after the contest, even though he has only been with the program for a short amount of time.
“He is one of the best people I’ve been around, I mean he is one of the better players I’ve been around, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about as a person. He is one of the best people,” Fusina said.
The Kingsmen started off slow to start the game and were unable to find a rhythm, with the Leopard’s jumping into an early lead of 19-11 in the first half of play. After an early timeout, the violet and gold came out with a different attitude and were able to get some key defensive stops. With great ball movement on the offensive end, the Kingsmen were able to tie the game at 26 nearing the middle of the first half.
“We moved the ball, moved bodies, screened people and didn’t try and do a one-on-five, we used each other and tried to have good possessions,” Fusina said.
The hot shooting hands of junior forward Austin Cole and junior guard Kyle Ferreira combined to score 49 of the teams 79 points in the game. The Kingsmen were able to take control late in the half and went into halftime with a five point lead and the score 43-38.
“We got into rhythm and were starting to cut and screen better and I think that really opened things up for us,” Ferreira said.
The Kingsmen opened up the second half strong, jumping all over the Leopards to extend their lead to double digits early in the second half with the score 57-44.
La Verne wasn’t going to go away quietly and with a strong offensive showing from senior guard Victor Costa who added 30 points of his own to try and rally the Leopards back in it.
“We let the lead dwindle down and we got complacent a little bit with the lead, but we were able to pick it back up,” Moffett said.
With an intense end, the Leopards with 1:03 left in the contest, threw a shot up to tie the game up at 77 all. With some aggressive offense, Cole hit the game winning fade away shot with 17 seconds to give Cal Lutheran the lead. The defensive did the part and the Kingsmen were able to escape with a win on their final game of the season.
“It was a good win for us. We came out and played hard. We just fought,” Ferreira said. “We all rallied behind KJ and made sure it was his night and glad to send him away with a win.”
Cal Lutheran ended the 2018 season with a final record of 9-15 and 6-10 in conference play and will not be advancing into the postseason.