Bulldog Men's Basketball Edged by UPS Loggers in High-Octane Rematch

Blake O'Brien shooting a basket vs. UPS
Photo credit: Liz Slupinski

The University of Redlands men's basketball team tipped off at home for the first time this season when it faced the University of Puget Sound (WA) on Wednesday afternoon in Currier Gym.  In a rematch of the teams' recent Saturday meeting, the Bulldogs battled until the very end but the final shot wouldn't fall as time expired in a 115-116 loss.

The teams sprinted up and down the court in a run-and-gun style of play similar to that which Redlands used to execute in the early 2000s under the direction of former Head Coach Gary Smith. 

After a quick two buckets by senior forward Blake O'Brien (Sammamish, WA), the Bulldogs settled into managing the frenzied style of the Loggers.  Amidst a continuous trading of possessions and baskets, Redlands remained poised and focused to stick to its game plan. 

Leading 9-8 less than three minutes into the action, the Bulldogs gained a defensive rebound by junior Joey Sponheim (Redlands, CA), who quickly turned it into an assist for junior guard Trevor Baker's (Phoenix, AZ) trey-ball and the U of R's four-point lead.

The Maroon and Gray maintained a slight edge, as highlighted by a big-time offensive rebound by sophomore guard Hass Berry (Riverside, CA) that led directly to a tip-in and the home team's 18-14 advantage at the 16:23-mark.

Two minutes later, the Bulldogs stayed in front at 23-19, but a quick UPS three-pointer and lay-up temporarily changed the momentum.  The Loggers went on to fire off a 9-0 run to build their largest lead of the day at 32-25 with 11:04 left in the first half.

However, the Maroon and Gray quickly responded with key free-throws by sophomore forward David Menary (Grass Valley, CA) and Sponheim, to go along with sophomore forward Jesse Wims' (London, England) easy lay-up.  At the midway point of the opening half, Redlands trailed by only one point.

The Bulldogs hung with the high-octane, heavy-on-threes offense and eventually tied it up at 44 when Menary rolled in a lay-up off of a dime of a pass from Sponheim.  Critical free-throws and well-timed three-pointers from Wims and first-year forward Jordan Holden (Anaheim, CA) evened the tally at 50 and again at 55.

After another 3-2 scoring exchange, the teams retreated into the locker rooms, with UPS holding a slight 58-57 advantage.

The back-and-forth nature of the game continued in the second half, with the Bulldogs' Holden and Baker hitting three-pointers and first-year forward Parker Landolf (Alamo, CA) and O'Brien supplying key buckets in the paint.  Redlands orchestrated an 11-2 run to earn its largest lead of the game at the 9:40-mark of the second half.  The scoring spurt began with a Wims' lay-up off of his own offensive board and finished with O'Brien stepping back for the jumper.

While still holding a slight advantage, the Bulldogs hit triple-digits at the 6:27-mark of the game, but the Loggers answered with a 9-0 run to snag a 105-100 lead with 5:14 to go.

The Bulldogs' stifling defense and a huge three-pointer by Sponheim cut the deficit to two at 105-107.  However, UPS dug in for another scoring burst that forced Redlands to answer with important free-throws and a late three-pointer by Baker, which evened the count once again at 114 with about a minute left on the clock. 

After a Logger lay-up, Baker drove the lane for the foul and converted one of two free-throws with 38 seconds left to make it a one-point game.  Berry hauled in a huge defensive rebound on UPS' ensuing possession to breathe new life into the Bulldogs.  Two timeouts later, Redlands worked to get one final look at the potentially winning bucket but it missed the mark as time expired, resulting in the 115-116 loss for the home team.

Overall, the Bulldogs knocked down 53.6% of their shots, including 41.7% of their three-pointers.  Baker paced the Maroon and Gray with 29 points, including four buckets from downtown.  He added six rebounds and four assists. 

Menary supplied a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Wims and Sponheim each chipped in 13 points.  Holden impressed off the bench for 16 points and four boards, as O'Brien and Berry registered 10 points apiece and combined for 18 rebounds.

The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle, 56-31.

Redlands (0-3) looks forward to hosting the 2017 Lee Fulmer Classic on Friday, December 1, and Saturday, December 2.  The Bulldogs face UC Santa Cruz in Friday's 7 p.m. game and then take on the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater on Saturday.