Solid Shooting Propels U of R Men's Basketball to 85-65 Win over Occidental in SCIAC Action

Connor Griffin provided 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting against the Tigers.
Connor Griffin provided 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting against the Tigers.

The University of Redlands men's basketball team faced off against the Occidental College Tigers in a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown on Tuesday night in Currier Gymnasium. Aided by a stellar 48.6 shooting percentage from the floor to go along with an 81.8% showing from the line, the Bulldogs gained an early lead and stayed out in front in the 85-65 victory.

Sophomore guard Sean Milligan (Portland, OR) put the Bulldogs on top by five early in the first half after dropping five of the first seven points of the contest. Freshman center Blake O'Brien (Sammamish, WA) followed that scoring trend by netting six points of his own for a 15-4 Maroon and Gray lead with 15:48 left in the opening frame.

Senior guard Connor Griffin (San Ramon, CA) was not shy on the trigger and notched five points in a 30-second span for Redlands' 22-8 advantage with 11:54 remaining. He fired off back-to-back baskets, including one from beyond the arc.

With 8:28 left on the clock, the Tigers clawed their way back to within seven, but Griffin had other plans in mind by draining another shot from downtown to extend Redlands' lead to 31-21.

Sophomore guard Zack Whittet (Palm Desert, CA) entered the game late in the first half to help maintain the cushion by notching seven points off the bench for a 44-36 advantage at the break.

Although Occidental cut the deficit to six points with 17:15 remaining in the second half, Redlands' senior guard Marco Kengott (San Diego, CA) laid a basket up and in for two points to halt the Tigers' rally. In addition, freshman forward Will Tender (Spokane, WA) took matters into his own hands by notching six-consecutive points during a two-minute span for a 54-45 Bulldog lead.

While remaining focused on defense, Redlands continued its success on the scoring end of the floor by utilizing numerous players to march in the scoring parade. Kengott provided a burst of fire power, as he actively drove the lane to force open looks for himself and teammates. He totaled 10 out of his 14 total points in the second half.

Sophomore forward Ryan Borak (Yorba Linda, CA) registered a pair of key buckets down the stretch to help expand the Bulldogs' lead and eventually take home an 85-65 victory.

Kengott led all Bulldog scorers with 14 points, to go along with four assists. Junior guard Aljosa Bjekovic (Maribor, Slovenia) cleaned up the boards with 11 rebounds and chipped in seven points.

Griffin finished with 13 points off the bench, while Whittet mirrored his heroics in a 10-point effort from a reserve role.

The Bulldogs (5-8, 2-2 SCIAC) continue SCIAC competition on Tuesday, January 20, as they travel to Claremont to take on the Sagehens of Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in a 7:30 p.m. tip-off at the Rains Center.