UR Men's Basketball's Late Surge Not Enough against Puget Sound in Close 62-64 Decision

Photo credit: Halie West
Photo credit: Halie West

The University of Redlands men's basketball team took on the visiting University of Puget Sound (WA) Loggers in a non-conference showdown in Currier Gym on Tuesday. Although Redlands gained a 12-point lead early in the second half, the Loggers found their offensive spark and capitalized on Bulldog mistakes to go on a huge run and overtake the lead. The Maroon and Gray almost answered the call for a late-game comeback, but it fell short and resulted in a tough 62-64 loss.

Both teams got off to a slow start offensively, with Redlands holding a slight 10-9 advantage nearly six minutes into the game.

At the 11:12-mark, the Bulldogs put together an impressive 7-0 run, beginning with sophomore guard Joey Sponheim's (Redlands, CA) nice step-back shot from beyond the arc off of a dime of a pass from senior forward Sean Milligan (Portland, OR). Junior forward Blake O'Brien (Sammamish, WA) hit the Bulldogs' subsequent jumper, which was followed by freshman forward Brittain Foster's (Long Beach, CA) lay-up for the home team's 16-10 advantage.

The Redlands offense remained hot, as sophomore guard Trevor Baker (Phoenix, AZ) hit a jumper of his own, before Foster converted a pair of free-throws. O'Brien, Baker, and junior guard Kyle Husslein (Tamuning, Guam) combined for the next eight buckets to send the team into the locker room with a 30-22 advantage at halftime.

The Bulldogs kept the pressure on early in the second half, with O'Brien swatting a UPS bucket to set the tone.  After Baker hit his next jumper, O'Brien tossed it up for freshman forward Jesse Wims (London, England) on an alley-oop dunk for an energizing play. This massive dunk gave Redlands its biggest lead of the night at 34-22 with 18:07 left on the clock.

Unfortunately, this also lit a spark within the Loggers, who seemed to make nearly every shot in impressive fashion and eventually overtook the lead at the 12:43-mark. After three free-throws and a couple made lay-ups, UPS held a 46-39 advantage. Knowing the Bulldogs had to get back in the game fast, Baker lofted a deep trey-ball to keep the team within four.

While the Bulldogs struggled to regain their offensive rhythm, the Loggers extended their lead to 57-42 with 5:26 left in the game.

However, the Bulldogs refused to go away and successfully organized a 17-6 run to close out the game. Husslein kicked off the pursuit by converting a lay-up under the basket. Wims, Baker, and Sponheim combined for the next 15 points to put the team within two at 59-61. During this stretch, Baker scored eight-consecutive points. 

After two made UPS free-throws, Baker stepped up again by hitting an amazing, off-balanced three to make it a one-point game at 62-63 with three seconds remaining. Forced to foul, Redlands sent the Loggers to the charity stripe, where they converted the only one of their free-throws, which allowed Redlands to in-bounds the ball one last time for a Hail-Mary shot.  Sponheim chucked the ball on target, but it fell just short of the rim, giving Redlands the heart-breaking 62-64 loss.

Baker finished with a game-high 25 points on 9-for-18 shooting.  He also supplied five steals.  Husslein backed him with 11 points.

Redlands (3-4) heads to the Whittier Purple & Gold Classic on December 29-30 to face Linfield College (OR) and La Sierra University.