The University of Redlands men's team jumped back into the win column on Saturday afternoon when it turned a six-point deficit into a 76-64 victory over the visiting Caltech Beavers. With senior forward Blake O'Brien (Sammamish, WA) leading the charge with a season-high 20 points, the Bulldogs gained their second Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) win of the season.
The teams came out firing in the early stages of the game, with Caltech building its largest lead of the day at 16-10 with 14:42 left in the first half. Redlands worked to tie it up with a 6-0 run that included an impressive near-dunk off his own offensive board by first-year Jacob Russell (Boise, ID). He went on to later convert a pair of free-throws, while junior guard Joey Sponheim (Redlands, CA) snagged the steal before driving the lane for a lay-up off the glass.
After a quick three-pointer by the Beavers, the Bulldogs responded with an 8-0 scoring spurt that included buckets by sophomore forward David Menary (Grass Valley, CA), junior guard Trevor Baker (Phoenix, AZ), and O'Brien. In addition to sinking free-throws, Redlands benefited from quality shots by Menary and O'Brien to keep the Maroon and Gray in front through the end of the first half, as the teams entered the locker room with Redlands holding onto a 36-32 advantage.
During the second half, the Bulldogs never relinquished the lead, as the Maroon and Gray out-scored Caltech, 40-32. Senior guard Kyle Husslein (Tamuning, Guam) played a critical role in the team's success with multiple slicing-and-dicing drives to the basket, including back-to-back buckets at the start of the stanza.
With Redlands up, 42-35, with 18:08 to play, O'Brien hauled in a big offensive board and immediately turned it into two points on a tip-in. After Husslein grabbed the ensuing defensive board, he found his way to the hoop for another successful lay-up to give Redlands a 46-35 lead.
A few minutes later, first-year forward Jordan Holden (Anaheim, CA) entered the game to provide additional firepower by knocking down a pair of three-pointers for the Maroon and Gray. Baker complemented the long-range dynamic by hitting two shots from downtown just moments later, as Redlands stayed in front by a score of 62-51.
Although the Beavers clawed their way back to make it a six-point game with 1:10 to go, they were forced to foul and the Bulldogs came up with the pressure shots for the 76-64 win. Holden and Baker successfully took care of business at the stripe by going a combined 6-for-6 in the final 70 seconds.
O'Brien topped the charts with a season-high 20 points to go along with seven rebounds, two blocks, and one assist. Husslein tossed in 15 points, five rebounds, and two assists, while Baker added 12 points in the win. Holden led the Bulldog bench with 10 points in a late-game surge.
Redlands (4-8, 2-2 SCIAC) faces a quick turnaround by hosting Whittier College on Monday, January 8, at 7 p.m. in Currier Gym.