The University of Redlands men's basketball team captured an important Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) win on Saturday night with a 65-52 showing over the Leopards of the University of La Verne in Currier Gym. With both teams tied at 2-2 in conference at the opening tip, the Bulldogs' triumph moves them ahead of the opponents into a tie for third place in the standings with Cal Lutheran University.
In tonight's battle, Redlands endured a tight start with the Leopards, with senior forward Eric Radford (Federal Way, WA) providing back-to-back three-pointers to make it 13-11 with 14:09 left on the first-half clock.
However, La Verne answered with a pair of threes of its own, as Kendall McClain and Cruz Mertens hit consecutive shots from beyond the arc.
The teams went on to trade baskets until the Bulldogs responded to a one-point deficit at 20-21 with an 8-0 run to finish the half. During this stretch, sophomore forward Aljosa Bjekovic (Maribor, Slovenia) and senior guard Ricky Peetz (Redlands, CA) each contributed four points.
Equipped with a 28-21 advantage, the Bulldogs maintained their momentum to start the second stanza, as senior guard Matt Calhoun (Clackamas, OR) scored four quick points to make it 32-21.
Freshman guard Sean Milligan (Portland, OR) kept things rolling for the Maroon and Gray by extending the team's lead to 15 points with back-to-back buckets of his own.
Although La Verne eventually cut the deficit to seven with 12 minutes to play, Calhoun's free-throw and layup at the 11:39-mark stretched the Bulldogs' advantage back to 10 points.
Redlands poured on the offense while stepping up its defense to emerge with a 16-7 run for a 58-38 lead with less than four minutes left on the clock. Junior guard Marco Kengott contributed a sweet and-one play off of an assist by sophomore forward Kyle Milligan (Portland, OR), while Peetz converted a shot from downtown during this outburst of scoring. In addition, the Bulldog defense forced La Verne into more than one hurried attempt as the shot clock wound down during multiple Leopard possessions.
Down the stretch, the Bulldogs gained important lay-ups from Bjekovic, Calhoun, and senior guard Robby Turk (Aurora, CO), en route to the 65-52 win.
Bjekovic led all players with 19 points and nine rebounds. After the game, he spoke about his performance and the overall importance of the team's victory against La Verne.
In addition, Calhoun provided 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting in his first start of the season, while Peetz added 14 points with a 50% performance.
K. Milligan and Peetz both offered four assists in the victory.
La Verne (5-8, 2-3 SCIAC) was led by Weston Newell, who scored 13 points off the bench.
As a team, Redlands (7-7, 3-2 SCIAC) converted 42.1% of its shots, compared to the Leopards' 37% effort. The Bulldogs also edged the opponents in total rebounds with a 40-34 margin.
After a bye on Wednesday, the Maroon and Gray heads to Thousand Oaks on Sat., Jan. 18, for a critical match-up with the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen, who also boast a 3-2 SCIAC record after defeating the Caltech Beavers in tonight's contest. The two teams tip off on the 18th at 5 p.m.