The University of Redlands men's basketball team made the short trip to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Saturday night to square off against the 15th-ranked Stags in an important Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown. In a tale of two halves, the Bulldogs saw an 11-point lead turn into a 13-point deficit, before fighting back to make it a one-possession game. However, Redlands' late-game efforts fell short, resulting in a 64-69 loss.
The Bulldogs came out on fire by lighting up the scoreboard for 10 unanswered points through the first two minutes of the game. Sophomore guard Joey Sponheim (Redlands, CA) initiated the hot start with a three-pointer off of a dime of a pass from senior forward Sean Milligan (Portland, OR). After junior forward Blake O'Brien (Sammamish, WA) nabbed a steal on a Stag turnover, freshman forward Jesse Wims (London, England) drove the lane for a lay-up to make it 5-0 for the Bulldogs. As CMS missed another shot, O'Brien's defensive board turned into a three-pointer off of an assist by sophomore guard Trevor Baker (Phoenix, AZ). Sponheim capped off the Bulldogs' quality run with a slicing-and-dicing move to the basket for a lay-up.
Redlands maintained an advantage through the end of the opening half, with Baker and Sponheim each adding trey-balls to keep the Stags at a good distance. In addition, freshman guard Hass Berry (Riverside, CA), freshman forward David Menary (San Rafael, CA), and Milligan each chipped in quality buckets to send the Bulldogs into the locker room at halftime with a 33-29 lead.
Unfortunately for the Maroon and Gray, the second half seemed to go CMS' way, with key runs leading to a switch in the lead at 42-41 with 14:07 left in the game. From here, the Stags erupted for a 12-0 outburst to completely flip the momentum in their favor.
Nonetheless, Redlands clawed its way back to within three points by the 5:03-mark off of a 17-7 run of its own. Sponheim carried the Bulldogs by scoring nine points, with six of them coming off of shots from downtown. Milligan also added a trey-ball and a key steal for the Maroon and Gray.
However, that was as close as Redlands would get, with CMS hitting a few late buckets to seal the win.
Sponheim registered a career-high 25 points off of 8-for-12 shooting with five three-pointers. Baker chipped in 10 points, while O'Brien added five points and seven rebounds.
Redlands (7-13, 3-8 SCIAC) remains on the road for next week's game at the University of La Verne on Thursday, February 9. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.