The University of Redlands men's basketball team traveled to Whittier College on Saturday evening for a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCAIC) showdown against the Poets. After battling through a tight first half, the Bulldogs stormed out to a 10-point lead early in the second half but saw the game eventually slip away on a buzzer-beater that resulted in a heartbreaking 92-93 loss on the road.
After the teams traded baskets in the early part of the game to force a 12-all tie, Whittier caught fire for a 7-0 run through the 12:10-mark.
However, Bulldog senior guard Kyle Husslein (Tamuning, Guam) drove the lane for a critical lay-up, before first-year forward Jordan Holden (Anaheim, CA) stepped back for a three-pointer off of a perfect assist from sophomore guard Brittian Foster (Long Beach, CA) to make it 17-19. Holden kept things rolling for the Maroon and Gray by scoring a lay-up and dishing out a dime of a pass to sophomore forward David Menary (Grass Valley, CA) to put Redlands in front at 21-19.
The game continued in back-and-forth fashion, with junior guard Joey Sponheim (Redlands, CA) leading the charge late in the half. By the time the teams retreated to the locker rooms, Whittier held a slight 42-40 advantage.
Following Head Coach Jim Ducey's halftime speech, the Bulldogs came out firing on all cylinders, as Husslein, first-year guard Michael Hanna (Murrieta, CA), and Sponheim each knocked down trey-balls for Redlands' 49-43 lead less than three minutes into the second stanza.
A lay-up by Hanna, followed by another Husslein three-pointer, as well as key free-throws by Menary extended the visitors' lead to 58-48 at the 14:58-mark.
Redlands stayed in front with Foster and Sponheim scoring 15 of the team's next 17 points to make it 75-69 with 7:54 to go.
Although Whittier eventually cut it to two, the Bulldogs held off the visitors with quality trips to the free-throw line, tough defense, and a well-timed three-pointer by Holden. With about two minutes to play, Redlands owned a 90-83 lead but the Poets heated up at just the right time and evened the tally at 90 apiece with 11 seconds left on the clock.
Despite Hanna's driving lay-up on the Bulldogs' final possession, Whittier answered the call to convert a three-pointer at the buzzer to steal the win, 93-92.
Sponheim led the Maroon and Gary with 25 points to go along with three rebounds and three steals. Menary added 15 points, nine rebounds, and four assists, while Husslein contributed 14 points, six rebounds, and two assists. Holden impressed off the bench with a 16-point performance with a 4-for-7 showing from downtown.
The Bulldogs out-played the Poets in nearly every statistical category, including a better shooting percentage of 50.8%, as compared to the home team's 46.3% effort. Redlands won the rebounding with a 42-36 margin and converted more three-pointers at a higher clip. But the Poets successfully made more free-throws and gained more opportunities at the stripe.
Redlands (5-14, 3-7 SCIAC) returns home to Currier Gym on Wednesday, January 31, for a 7 p.m. conference tilt against the Chapman University Panthers.