U of R Men's Basketball Falters Late in Rematch against Pacific Boxers

Photo credit: Beth Doolittle
Photo credit: Beth Doolittle

In a rematch from a month ago, the University of Redlands men's basketball team squared off against the visiting Pacific University (OR) Boxers in Currier Gym on Monday afternoon.  Unfortunately, today's result was all too familiar for the Bulldogs, as they fell short by a score of 68-71 in a very tight, non-conference contest.

After winning the opening tip, Redlands jumped on the board with a lay-up by senior forward Sean Milligan (Portland, OR) to take an early 2-0 lead.  The Bulldogs stretched it to 7-4 after junior guard Kyle Husslein (Tamuning, Guam) drove the basket for two and sophomore guard Trevor Baker (Phoenix, AZ) stepped back for his first three-pointer of the day.

The teams traded scores throughout the opening half, with neither gaining more of a five-point advantage.  Pacific was poised to enter the locker room with a 41-36 lead, but sophomore guard Joey Sponheim's trey-ball cut the Bulldogs' deficit in half.

Less than a minute into the second-half action, Redlands evened the tally at 41, when Husslein found room to cut his way to the hoop for a lay-up.  On the Bulldogs' subsequent possession, Baker launched another bucket from downtown, with this one coming off a dime from Sponheim, for the home team's 44-41 advantage.

Although the Boxers tied it up at 46 and again at 53, Redlands recovered to eventually build its biggest lead of the night at 59-53 with 6:33 left in the game.  Two minutes earlier, Baker broke Pacific's rhythm with a pair of nothing-but-net jumpers, before converting a pair of free-throws for a nice six-point spurt.

The Bulldogs continued to keep Pacific at bay with quality shots by Baker, Milligan, and junior forward Blake O'Brien (Sammamish, WA).

But the Boxers refused to go away.  Down by six with 36 seconds left on the clock, RJ Collins entered the game and quickly left his mark by hitting a three-pointer to cut Pacific's deficit in half. 

Unfortunately, Redlands struggled at the free-throw line in the final seconds, providing just enough of a window for Pacific to surge back.   Michael Joseph and Davis Holly combined for the Boxers' final six points, including a 4-for-4 showing at the stripe, which provided the difference in the outcome.

For Redlands, Baker finished with 22 points, including a 4-for-7 effort from beyond the arc.  Milligan added 13 points and seven rebounds, while O'Brien, Husslein, and Sponheim each supplied nine points. 

The teams were evenly matched in most categories, as Redlands shot 43.4% from the field and Pacific converted 45.2% of its shots.  The Bulldogs pulled in 38 rebounds, while the Boxers snagged 30.

Redlands (3-3) faces a quick turnaround, with Tuesday's non-conference bout against the University of Puget Sound (WA) tipping off at 5 p.m. in Currier Gym.