The University of Redlands men's basketball team hoped to make it three in a row on Thursday night when it hosted the Chapman University Panthers in an important Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown in Currier Gym. After trailing by as many as 14 points, the Maroon and Gray clawed its way back off of 66.7% shooting in the second half to take the lead late in the game. Unfortunately for the home team, Chapman stepped up with critical shots from downtown to hand Redlands a heartbreaking 64-66 loss.
After a slow start, the Bulldogs faced an 11-25 deficit with 5:48 left in the first half. Freshman forward David Menary (San Rafael, CA) scored six-straight points to head up an 11-4 Redlands run to make it a seven-point game. Sophomore guard Trevor Baker (Phoenix, AZ) knocked down a three-pointer, before freshman guard Hass Berry (Riverside, CA) added a lay-up to cap off the scoring spree.
After a Chapman bucket, Redlands faced a 22-31 deficit when it retreated to the locker room at halftime.
Following Head Coach Jim Ducey's inspiring speech, the Bulldogs came out with a refreshed mindset to score and quickly made it a five-point game at 26-31. Freshman forward Jesse Wims (London, England) and junior forward Blake O'Brien (Sammamish, WA) teamed up on the first two plays of the half, with each scoring a bucket and O'Brien also dishing out a sweet assist.
The teams traded baskets over the next nine minutes until a key defensive stop by the Bulldogs set up Baker's jumper that cut the deficit to 36-39 with 10:35 left in the game.
Two minutes later, Berry knocked down a nothing-but-net three-pointer to keep Redlands within one possession. After a missed Bulldog shot, O'Brien hauled in a huge offensive board for the immediate put-back to tie it up at 47 with 7:07 remaining on the clock.
After Chapman answered with an easy lay-up, Baker hit a huge trey-ball that brought the Currier faithful to its feet, as Redlands grabbed its first lead of the game at 50-49. From here, the Bulldogs' shots from downtown continued to fall, as Baker and Wims hit back-to-back threes, with O'Brien and Baker each supplying key passes for the score. This run of points came after a great hustle play by senior forward Sean Milligan (Portland, OR) when he raced down the court to block a Chapman shot.
The teams traded buckets but Redlands kept hitting three-pointers, with Baker and Milligan each knocking them down to build a 62-56 lead with 2:09 to go. With each team scoring again, the Bulldogs remained in front by six points at the 1:15-mark.
Unfortunately for the home team, Chapman's Reed Nakakihara got hot at the right time and hit two three-pointers late in the game, including the game-winner from well beyond the arc with less than a second to go.
Redlands' final, long-distance play fell short, resulting in the heartbreaking 64-66 loss.
Baker finished with a game-high 19 points off of 7-for-12 shooting that included four threes. He also hauled in eight rebounds. O'Brien added 12 points and five assists, while Wims, Berry, and Menary each chipped in eight points.
Redlands (7-12, 37) heads to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Saturday, February 4, for a 7 p.m. tilt against the Stags.