The University of Redlands men's basketball squad kicked off Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) competition against the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges Stags on Saturday night in Claremont. After a tight first half, the Bulldogs struggled through a six-minute span without a field goal, leading to the 44-68 defeat in their first conference match-up of the season.
Early in the game, both teams endured a four-minute scoring drought, until Bulldog senior guard Marco Kengott (San Diego, CA) snapped the offensive lull by pocketing a steal and then draining a three-pointer to tie the game at 12 apiece with 9:05 left on the first-half clock.
However, CMS finally responded by putting together a 10-2 run that put the Bulldogs behind by six points with just under five minutes left in the period.
Nonetheless, Redlands looked to senior guard Connor Griffin (San Ramon, CA) and freshman center Blake O'Brien (Sammamish, WA) to team up for back-to-back buckets, bringing the score to 18-22 with 4:04 remaining.
In addition, junior forward Kyle Milligan (Portland, OR) worked his way to the free-throw line and knocked down one of two shots to decrease the deficit to three points. Freshman guard Max Melder (Sierra Vista, CA) followed with a corner jumper that brought the score to 24-28 at the end of the first half.
Following early baskets from the Milligan brothers and Griffin, the teams traded scores during the early part of the second stanza.
However, CMS took advantage of a Bulldog cold streak, as the Stags fired off a 12-2 to run over the course of six minutes to take a 50-32 lead, with Redlands' only scores coming at the free-throw line.
Unfortunately for the Maroon and Gray, the double-digit deficit proved to be too much to overcome in the final seven minutes.
Junior forward Aljosa Bjekovic (Maribor Slovenia) dropped a team-high 14 points to go along with four rebounds. O'Brien came off the bench for eight points and two rebounds. Sophomore guard Sean Milligan (Portland, OR) notched two assists while contributing four points.
The Bulldogs (3-7, 0-1 SCIAC) strive to rebound when they head to Thousand Oaks on Tuesday, January 6, to face Cal Lutheran University in a 7:30 p.m. SCIAC showdown.