Bulldog Men's Basketball Stumbles to Whitworth University in Regional Showdown

Photo Credit:  Beth Doolittle
Photo Credit: Beth Doolittle

The University of Redlands men's basketball team took on formidable foe Whitworth University (WA) on Wednesday night in Currier Gym but came away with a 61-80 loss to the Pirates.  With the visitors shooting lights out to start the contest, the Bulldogs struggled to recover from an early deficit.

After the teams traded baskets in the early goings, Whitworth pulled away with an impressive 18-6 run to make it 23-12 with 11 minutes to go in the first half.  By this point of the game, Christian Jurlina already had poured in 14 of his game-high 26 points.

However, the Bulldogs answered with an aggressive pursuit of the basket, earning multiple free-throw opportunities to close the gap to three at 26-29.  Among the 14-6 rally, Redlands gained six points at the stripe from junior forward Aljosa Bjekovic (Maribor, Slovenia), while sophomore guard Sean Milligan (Portland, OR) chipped in five points on a lay-up and a three-pointer.

But the Maroon and Gray's comeback was short-lived, as the Pirates' offense gained momentum in the final five minutes of the frame with a 14-4 run.  Whitworth's Josh Thayer and Derek Isaak both hit shots from downtown, bringing the visitors' first-half, three-pointer total to eight.

Although Redlands cut the lead to seven early in the second frame, it was not enough to overcome the Pirates' quality shooting, especially from long range.  Whitworth finished the night by knocking down 12 three-pointers at a clip of 52.2%.  

The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle with 37 to Whitworth's 35.  The squads were dead-even at the stripe, each going 20-for-27.  Turnovers were in the Pirates' favor, as Redlands coughed up 21 as compared to the visitors' nine.

Bjekovic and Milligan led the Maroon and Gray with 17 points apiece.  They also pulled in a team-high seven boards each.  Milligan and his brother, junior forward Kyle Milligan (Portland, OR), accounted for eight of the team's 12 assists.

Beyond Jurlina's 26 points, the Pirates gained 13 points from Matt Staudacher and 12 from Forrest Baker.

Redlands (2-3) looks to rebound when it returns to Gary Smith Court in Currier Gym on Saturday, December 6, for a 7 p.m. showdown against North Central College (IL).