The University of Redlands men's basketball team traveled to Orange on Saturday afternoon to square off against the conference-leading Chapman University Panthers in an important Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown. Despite a hot start, the Bulldogs struggled to match the high-flying Panther offense and ultimately lost by a score of 59-84.
Redlands came out firing, with senior forward Al Bjekovic (Maribor, Slovenia) hitting two of his first three shots, before sophomore center Blake O'Brien (Sammamish, WA) made it 6-0 with a lay-up at the 17-minute mark.
Following a Panther timeout, the home team adjusted its strategy to effectively take the lead on a 7-0 run of its own. From here, Chapman found its offensive rhythm that included seven three-pointers to create a 12-point lead at the break.
Nonetheless, Redlands worked to chip away at the deficit, with sophomore guard Kyle Husslein (Tamuning, Guam) initiating the rally with a jumper with 18:12 remaining in the second half. On the subsequent possession, Bjekovic found an open O'Brien, who converted a lay-up to make it 37-48.
Senior forward Kyle Milligan (Portland, OR) took advantage of two free-throws, before Husslein's three-pointer made it a nine-point game with 13:41 to go. Freshman forward Trevor Brown (San Mateo, CA) added to the Bulldogs' offensive push by converting a lay-up, which was followed by senior center Shawn James' (Plano, TX) bucket, which cut the deficit to 46-52 with just under 12 minutes left on the clock.
However, Chapman's long-range shooting heated up again to quickly extend its lead back to double digits.
Redlands struggled down the stretch to match the home team's offensive production while also missing a few chances at the line, resulting in the tough loss.
Husslein led the Bulldogs with 14 points, while junior guard Sean Milligan (Portland, OR) chipped in 10 points. Brown provided a solid effort off the pine with 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting in only 15 minutes of action.
Overall, the Maroon and Gray shot 40.4%, but the Panthers upped the ante with a 54.4% effort. Chapman also converted twice as many threes and had 10 more chances at the line.
With the loss, Redlands (11-11, 7-6 SCIAC) slips into a tie-for-third place in the SCIAC standings with three games remaining. The Bulldogs host the Whittier College Poets on Wednesday, February 17, at 7:30 p.m. in Currier Gym.