The University of Redlands men's basketball team jumped back into action on Thursday afternoon by hosting the Fighting Scots of Gordon College (MA) in Currier Gym. After building an early 10-5 lead, the Bulldogs never looked back and cruised to a solid 87-56 win over the non-conference foes.
Redlands charged out of the gates to take a 10-5 lead less than three minutes into the contest. First-year guard Jacob Russell (Boise, ID) converted an offensive rebound into an immediate bucket on the Bulldogs' opening possession before sophomore forward David Menary (Grass Valley, CA) tossed in a lay-up off of an assist by junior guard Joey Sponheim (Redlands, CA). Junior guard Trevor Baker (Phoenix, AZ) and senior forward Blake O'Brien (Sammamish, WA) hit back-to-back three-pointers to cap off the Maroon and Gray's solid start.
Although the Fighting Scots cut it to three on their next possession, Redlands quickly responded with a 13-2 run that included a pair of trey-balls from sophomore forward Jesse Wims (London, England). In addition, sophomore guard Hass Berry (Riverside, CA) and Baker each pick-pocketed the opponent for key steals and new opportunities for the home team.
Now up 23-9 with about 11 minutes to go in the first half, the Maroon and Gray kept pressing the offensive gas pedal while playing relentless defense. Berry, Sponheim, and Baker remained hot from beyond the arc, with Berry, Sponheim, and Russell providing key assists. On the other end of the court, the Bulldogs forced Gordon into multiple turnovers, including a pair of shot-clock violations.
The teams entered the locker rooms at the break, with Redlands holding a 42-24 advantage.
The second half saw the home team put together an efficient offense to go along with persistent pressure that forced the Fighting Scots into difficult shots. Every time Gordon inched closer, the Bulldogs turned up the heat with three-pointers, especially from Sponheim. He and Baker teamed up for a sweet connection on the edge of the arc for a pair of long-range buckets before O'Brien dished out an assist for Sponheim's late-possession jumper to make it 58-39 with 11:36 to go in the game.
Baker kept the offense clicking by providing perfect passes to Menary and Wims for additional trey-balls for the Bulldogs' 67-45 lead at the eight-minute mark.
With a comfortable hold on the game, Head Coach Jim Ducey sent in a refreshed line-up and gained quality minutes from first-year forward Jordan Holden (Anaheim, CA) and sophomore guard Jesse Grabow (San Ramon, CA). With 3:22 to play, Grabow pulled up for a nothing-but-net jumper. After hauling in the subsequent defensive board, Holden drove the lane for the bucket and then made an immediate steal on the other end. Ninety seconds later, Grabow took advantage of space in the corner for a swishing three-pointer off of Holden's assist.
Junior forward Nate Battisti (Seattle, WA) knocked down the Maroon and Gray's final bucket of the game, which came from downtown, to complete the home team's 87-56 victory.
Sponheim led all players with 23 points, including a 5-for-8 showing from beyond the arc. Baker impressed with an 11-point, nine-assist, and seven-rebound effort. Menary added 15 points and five boards.
Redlands hit 55.4% of its three-pointers to complement an overall shooting display of 44.9%, while the Fighting Scots converted only 30.3% of their baskets. Overall, the Bulldogs surpassed Gordon in every statistical category.
Redlands (3-6) returns to Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) competition with a busy week to start the New Year, beginning with a road game at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges on Monday, January 1, at 7 p.m.