The University of Redlands men's basketball team hosted No. 5 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the final contest of the Lee Fulmer Memorial Classic on Saturday night in Currier Gym. Despite a late-game push by the home team, the Warhawks never faltered at the charity stripe and handed the Bulldogs a 60-69 loss.
Senior forward Blake O'Brien (Sammamish, WA) opened the game by swiping a steal that he later converted into lay-up off a nice pass from senior guard Joey Sponheim (Redlands, CA). Just a minute later, Sponheim took it the hole for the Redlands 4-0 advantage.
The Warhawks subsequently went on a 10-2 run, forcing the Bulldogs to play from behind. A plethora of turnovers plagued the Bulldogs that UW-Whitewater turned into points in the following minutes.
At the 12:22-mark, senior guard Kyle Husslein (Tamuning, Guam) dished out a quick pass to first-year forward Jordan Holden (Anaheim, CA), who hit a nothing-but-net bucket from downtown to close the gap to 9-16.
Starting at the 5:50-mark, Sponheim did his part in a quick 60-second span by sinking all four free-throws and knocking down a successful jumper to put the Bulldogs within five points at 20-25.
Despite sophomore forward David Menary (Grass Valley, CA), O'Brien, and Sponheim combining for seven points to close out the half, the Warhawks' shots continued to fall, as the Bulldogs entered halftime with a nine-point hole.
More turnovers haunted the Bulldogs, as the Warhawks continued to press offensively to earn a 16-point lead at the 12:58-mark. First-year guard Jacob Russell (Boise, ID) entered the game and made an immediate impact with successful jumpers and free-throws. He contributed 16 of his 17 points in 18 minutes of the second half.
With this change in momentum, the Bulldogs continued to battle, with Menary driving a lay-up to pull within six at 55-61 with 1:51 left on the clock. After a pair of Warhawk free-throws, Sponheim hit another three-pointer to close the gap to five yet again at 58-63 with just 43 seconds left in the game.
Despite using the clock well with timeouts and intentional fouls, the Warhawks closed the door on a Bulldog comeback as they made all of their free-throws in the waning seconds. As the clock hit zero, the Bulldogs took a 60-69 loss.
Sponheim and Russell each contributed 17 points, with Sponheim hauling in eight rebounds, while Russell snagged seven.
For their work during the two-day classic, Sponheim and Russell represented Redlands on the All-Tournament Team. Additional honorees include Caltech's Spencer Schneider, UC Santa Cruz's Sam Gabbard, and Whitewater's David Sachs and Dalton Menke.
Redlands looks forward to opening Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) play by hosting Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges in Currier Gym on Wednesday, December 6. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.