The University of Redlands men's basketball team headed north to Santa Cruz for the Scotts Valley Hilton Classic on Saturday, taking on the Pacific University (OR) Boxers in the Bulldogs' first outing. Although the Maroon and Gray led by nine points early on, the Boxers gained momentum in the second half that propelled them to a 61-59 win over Redlands.
The Boxers got on the board first via a jump shot, which fired up Redlands to regain momentum in the early part of the contest. Sophomore guard Trevor Baker (Phoenix, AZ) converted a nifty pass from senior forward Sean Milligan (Portland, OR) for two points to tie the score. Just 10 seconds later, junior guard Kyle Husslein (Tamuning, Guam) swiped a steal and raced it to the other end of the court for the lay-up. Sophomore guard Joey Sponheim (Redlands, CA) got in the action by laying up a score to extend Redlands' lead to 6-2 less than four minutes into the game.
After a few exchanges of baskets, the Bulldogs extended their lead to nine points at 30-21, as Milligan, Sponheim, and junior guard Wyatt Pannabecker (Choteau, MT) each drained a three-point shot, before Milligan made his subsequent free-throw to give Redlands its' biggest advantage of the game at the 2:41-minute mark.
However, the Boxers went on a shooting spree to close the gap to two points by halftime. Pacific continued its hot streak into the second half to earn its largest lead of the night at 38-30, forcing Redlands to come from behind.
Baker and Milligan came up with two, huge back-to-back buckets from beyond the arc to cut the deficit to two. Fast-forward to a minute left in the game and the Bulldogs faced a 51-59 deficit. Milligan made his two free-throws, which gave possession back to the Boxers. Baker snatched a much-needed steal and fed it to freshman guard Hass Berry (Riverside, CA) for a huge three-pointer to keep the Bulldogs within striking distance late in the game.
Pacific sunk its next two free-throws before Bulldog freshman forward Jesse Wims (London, England) converted a tough lay-up under the basket and drew the foul for a possible three-point opportunity. Wims finished the sequence by sinking his free-throw to put Redlands within two at 59-61.
Milligan made some quick moves to shake defenders before taking the last-second three-pointer, but, unfortunately, it just missed and bounced off the rim.
The teams were tied six times during the game and traded leads on eight occasions.
Sponheim led the Maroon and Gray with a 10-point showing off the bench, while Baker, Milligan, and junior forward Blake O'Brien (Sammamish, WA) chipped in nine points each.
Redlands (0-1) looks to make a quick turnaround by facing host UC Santa Cruz on Sunday, November 27, at Kaister Permanente Arena. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m.