Redlands Men's Basketball Out-Matched by Whitman in 72-118 Defeat

Photo credit: Olivia de la Cruz
Photo credit: Olivia de la Cruz

The University of Redlands men's basketball team began a two-game road trip in the Pacific Northwest on Monday afternoon by facing off against the Whitman College (WA) Missionaries. The Bulldogs struggled to keep up with the undefeated squad and fell by a final score of 72-118.

Sophomore center Blake O'Brien (Sammamish, WA) kicked off the scoring for the Maroon and Gray by kissing a lay-up off the glass on a fast break for two points. From then on, the Bulldogs attempted to remain relevant amidst a fast-paced Whitman offense. Sophomore point guard Kyle Husslein (Tamuning, Guam) assisted on a triple from the hand of senior forward Al Bjekovic (Maribor, Slovenia) with 12:17 left in the first frame.

Unfortunately, Redlands struggled to keep pace with Whitman's prolific possessions, which resulted in 22 points off a dozen Bulldog turnovers in the first half.

Freshman guard Joey Sponheim (Redlands, CA) did all he could to trim the deficit by drilling seven points off the bench, which included one three-pointer and two successful free-throws in the opening 20 minutes of action. O'Brien and Bjekovic combined for 11 points en route to a 38-56 deficit at halftime.

Junior guard Sean Milligan (Portland, OR) kicked off the scoring for the Bulldogs in the second stanza by earning a trip to the free-throw line and knocking down one shot. Senior forward Kyle Milligan (Portland, OR) followed by pocketing a steal on the next Whitman possession in an effort to redirect the momentum in Redlands' favor.

Bjekovic kept the rhythm flowing with a successful and-one play to trim the Bulldogs' deficit to 20 points with less than 17 minutes remaining in the game.

Senior center Shawn James (Plano, TX) and S. Milligan continued to fight back by notching two-consecutive, fast-break lay-ups.

After junior forward Ryan Borak (Yorba Linda, CA) knocked down a three-pointer, Spohheim took advantage of two free-throws, cutting the Maroon and Gray's deficit to 15 points with 13:47 left on the clock.

However, the Missionaries responded with a 20-2 run to put this game away in their favor.

Borak led the Bulldogs in scoring with 10 points to go along with six rebounds. Sponheim followed with nine points, which included a 4-for-4 mark from the charity stripe, while Bjekovic added eight points.

Overall, Whitman converted nearly 54% of it shots, as compared to Redlands' 35.5% showing.  The home team also knocked down seven threes, while the visitors made four.

The Bulldogs (4-3) strive to bounce back on Tuesday, December 22, when they face off against Lewis & Clark College (OR) at 3 p.m. in Portland, OR. Redlands hopes to avenge its earlier loss to the Pios, which came about a month ago by a four-point margin.