Despite trailing Caltech at halftime, the University of Redlands men's basketball team surged past the Beavers during the second half on Saturday night, winning the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) contest, 76-70. Another big night from sophomore forward Aljosa Bjekovic (Maribor, Slovenia) was key in the important conference victory for the Bulldogs.
Both teams battled early, and Caltech nabbed the advantage early on. Redlands stormed back, however, and went on a 14-0 run to take a 26-19 lead late in the first half. Senior guard Ricky Peetz (Redlands, CA) started the offensive spurt with a long-range effort, while Bjekovic and senior forward Alex Rudd (St. Louis, MO) both added shots from downtown to extend the lead. Junior guard Marco Kengott (San Diego, CA) capped off the run with a few points to give the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the half.
Caltech answered Redlands' run with a strong finish to the first stanza and took a 33-31 advantage into the break. During the first 20 minutes, the U of R shot just 25.9% from the field.
In the second half, the Maroon and Gray made three of its first four shots to regain the lead, but it would be short-lived as Caltech nailed a couple of buckets in a row to take a 40-38 advantage with 16:47 remaining in regulation.
Redlands continued to score, but the Beavers put points on the board as well, and with 7:32 remaining in Pasadena, Caltech led 59-54.
Bjekovic made two consecutive layups to cut the deficit to just one, and Rudd went on to hit successive three-pointers for the Bulldogs, pushing the road squad in front with 4:31 left.
With 2:19 on the clock, Peetz scored a crucial tip-in for the Bulldogs, putting Redlands up by two points. Rudd then converted a layup, and from that point on, the U of R converted the necessary free-throws to close out the contest and secure the triumph.
Bjekovic racked up 21 points and 10 rebounds in the victory, while Rudd shot 60.0% from the field for 19 points on the evening. Additionally, Peetz contributed 15 points, two rebounds, and three assists in the win.
As a team, Redlands shot 38.6% from the field, and 50.0% from beyond the arc.
The U of R (10-13, 6-8 SCIAC) returns to the court on Wednesday, February 19, when it travels to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges (17-5, 12-1 SCIAC) for another important conference bout. Tipoff in the final game to ever be played at Ducey Gymnasium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.