The University of Redlands men's basketball team continued its Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) journey on Tuesday night, facing off against the University of La Verne Leopards in Currier Gymnasium. Although the teams battled in a tight-knit match-up for most of the game, the Bulldogs suffered a cold streak on the offensive end that eventually led to their 50-69 loss to the Leopards.
Redlands came out of the gates firing on all cylinders to grab a 14-4 lead through the first seven minutes. Three-pointers from senior guard Marco Kengott (San Diego, CA) and sophomore guard Sean Milligan (Portland, OR) created solid momentum in the early part of the competition. Sophomore guard Zack Whittet (Palm Desert, CA) and freshman center Blake O'Brien (Sammamish, WA) followed suit by draining back-to-back buckets to expand the Bulldogs' advantage to 10 points at 12-2.
However, La Verne battled back to make it a one-point game at 15-16 before junior forward Aljosa Bjekovic (Maribor, Slovenia) knocked down a jumper to push the Bulldogs' lead to 18-15 with 8:34 left in the first stanza. S. Milligan converted two free-throws to expand the Maroon and Gray's lead to five points at 20-15.
But the Leopards answered once again by stringing together a 19-5 run over the last seven minutes of the first half, resulting in a 25-32 Bulldog deficit by the time the teams retreated to the locker rooms.
After shooting just 28.1% from the floor in the first 20 minutes, the Bulldogs looked to turn the page on a more productive second half. The Bulldogs came out on a mission by pulling within one point of the lead at 36-37 with 14:39 on the clock, with O'Brien leading the charge by scoring six points during this stretch.
A tight game ensued, but the Bulldogs struggled to push past the more efficient Leopards for the lead, as they fought to cut the deficit to two points on three occasions within a three-minute span.
Despite constant efforts to flush away its stagnant offense, Redlands fell to the Leopards at game's end by a score of 50-69.
S. Milligan and O'Brien each notched 13 points in the contest, while Bjekovic chipped in seven points and hauled in a game-high nine rebounds. Freshman forward Will Tender (Spokane, WA) clocked quality minutes off the bench and snagged six rebounds in the process.
La Verne (7-10, 3-5 SCIAC) shot 40.0% from the field, as compared to Redlands' 28.3% showing. Hakim Arnold led the Leopards with his 20-point performance.
The Bulldogs (5-12, 2-6 SCIAC) hope to end their recent skid on Saturday, January 31, when they travel to Eagle Rock to take on the Occidental College Tigers (8-8, 4-4 SCIAC) in a 4 p.m. showdown.