Bulldog Men's Basketball Comes up Short in Tight Battle against Occidental

Photo credit: Sam Keary
Photo credit: Sam Keary

The University of Redlands men's basketball team squared off against Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) competitor Occidental College in Currier Gym for a Saturday afternoon tilt. Amidst nine ties and 13 lead changes, t The Bulldogs went toe-to-toe with the conference-leading Tigers but came up just short in a 62-67 decision.

Through nearly six minutes of action, the score was knotted at seven, with sophomore forward David Menary (Grass Valley, CA) owning all of the points for Redlands. At 14:04, junior guard Joey Sponheim (Redlands, CA) added to the offense by sinking a shot from downtown for a slight 10-9 advantage. It was all Sponheim from that point on, as he continued to knock down trey-balls to keep the Maroon and Gray in front at 16-15 with about 8:30 to go in the first half. First-year guard Jacob Russell (Boise, ID) and first-year forward Jordan Holden (Anaheim, CA) dished out good looks, as each assisted on a Sponheim three.

A minute later, first-year guard Michael Hanna (Murrieta, CA) swiped one of his team-leading five steals, before Menary turned it into points with a crafty lay-up. The Tigers were on the verge of pulling away with short scoring spurts, but a timely jumper from senior guard Kyle Husslein (Tamuning, Guam) and free-throws from Russell kept the home team within one at 27-28 at the half.

Although sophomore guard Hass Berry (Riverside, CA) hit a jumper and a three-pointer in the first two minutes of the second half, Occidental's shots continued to fall as well to earn a one-possession advantage at the 17:47-mark.

Berry continued to put on a show, this time on the defensive end by putting up a block that Sponheim grabbed for the defensive rebound. The Bulldogs raced to the other end of the court, where first-year forward Parker Landolf (Alamo, CA) dished out a nice pass to Hanna for a huge basket from downtown to tie it at 36 with 16:41 left in regulation.

The Tigers proceeded to go on a 9-2 run to gain their biggest lead of the night at 45-38 at the 12:32-mark. However, a huge trey-ball from a wide-open Holden cut the deficit back to four just a minute later.

With nine minutes remaining, Russell used quick hands to swipe a steal that Menary eventually converted into a lay-up after snagging his own offensive rebound to pull the Bulldogs within two, 46-48. After a forced Tiger turnover, Sponheim stepped back to swish a basket from beyond the arc to retake the lead at 49-48. Hanna and Russell combined for the next six points to give Redlands a three-point advantage with five minutes left in the tight game.

Unfortunately, Occidental stayed hot down the stretch and, with about 80 seconds left in the game, the Tigers held a 64-57 advantage.

On the next Bulldog possession, Hanna found Menary on the inside for a nice lay-up. After a big stop, Sponheim pulled up for his fifth and final bucket from beyond the arc to make it a two-point game at 62-64 with 37 seconds left.

Redlands was forced to foul and Occidental stayed calm at the line, resulting in a tough 62-67 loss for the home team.

Menary led with 22 points, with Sponheim close behind with 17. Menary also hauled in eight rebounds. Hanna impressed with five steals on the day.

Redlands (5-12, 3-5) looks to jump back into the win column when its heads to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Wednesday, January 24, for a 7 p.m. start.