SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – Whittier's Nick Potthoff posted a game-high 24 points as Denison men's basketball suffered an 80-69 loss to the Poets in their final matchup of the 2019 UC Santa Cruz Holiday Classic on Sunday afternoon at the Keiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, Calif.
After the first half saw 12 lead changes and Whittier take a slight advantage at the break, 35-34, the second half opened with momentum belonging to the Poets as a pair of three-pointers from Potthoff and four points from Nick Manor-Hall fueled a 14-6 scoring run that extended the WC lead to 49-40 with 15:18 to play.
Following a Big Red timeout by head coach Bob Ghiloni, senior Jack Coulter buried a step-back jumper on the next possession while Kevin Cheng and Ben Stern combined for the next seven DU points as Denison trimmed their deficit to 51-49 over the next four minutes of action.
Despite the Denison rally, the Poets followed with a three-point play from Ahmad Young to spark 10 unanswered points from four different scorers for Whittier. The scoring run put DU in a double-digit deficit, 61-49, with 8:02 remaining.
Leading 72-64 with 3:15 to play in the game, Whittier rattled off seven-straight points over the next two minutes, including a pair of threes by Young and Journey Shank to beat the shot clock. Stern and senior Fred Brou posted the final five points of the day for DU, but it wasn't enough as the Big Red suffered their seventh loss of the season. The Poets improved to 6-4 with the win.
Potthoff's 24 points came on 8-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-10 from the perimeter. Young turned in 13 points and five assists while Nick Colosi added 14 points and eight boards off the bench.
Coulter led Denison with 16 points on 4-of-12 from three while adding three assists. Conor Fenton followed with an impressive stat line of 13 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and three steals that helped him earn All-Tournament honors while Cheng chipped in nine points. Matt Gerics highlighted the DU bench with seven points, three rebounds, three assists, and four steals.
The Big Red will take next week off before they return to action on Saturday, January 4 when they travel to Oberlin College for a North Coast Athletic Conference matchup with the Yeomen beginning at 2 p.m.