In a game that saw 10 ties and 15 lead changes, the University of Redlands men's basketball team captured an 87-77 victory over the Whittier College Poets in an exciting Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown on Wednesday night. The Bulldogs orchestrated a late 10-2 run that provided the difference in an otherwise tight contest.
The teams came out firing to start the game, with Whittier building a 14-11 lead less than four minutes into the action. About 90 seconds later, sophomore guard Michael Hanna (Murrieta, CA) drained his first three-pointer of the night to even the tally at 16 apiece.
After the teams traded buckets to make it 21-all, Redlands developed a 6-0 run that included three points each from sophomore forward Spencer Bandow (Covina, CA) and first-year guard/forward Gary Menary (Grass Valley, CA) by the 11:54-mark. The Bulldogs knocked down trey-balls on their next two possessions to garner a 33-23 lead about midway through the first half. Junior guard Thomas Scriven (Anaheim, CA) converted a dime of a pass from Hanna before junior guard Hass Berry (Riverside, CA) found an open sophomore forward Parker Landolf (Alamo, CA) on the perimeter.
However, the momentum quickly shifted, as the Poets answered with a 12-0 run to regain the lead at 35-33 just three minutes later.
But Redlands stuck to its game plan and quickly responded when junior forward David Menary (Grass Valley, CA) delivered an assist for senior guard Joey Sponheim's (Redlands, CA) three-pointer to put his team back in front. The score remained relatively close until the Bulldogs turned a one-point deficit into a four-point lead at 48-44 with 1:31 to go in the frame. Sponheim and Bandow teamed up for critical points during this stretch.
Nonetheless, Whittier created a change in momentum once again and closed out the half with a 5-0 run to head into the locker room with a 49-48 advantage
By the end of the first, each team had registered a 57% shooting effort in the high-scoring affair.
During the second stanza, the tight battle continued, as Redlands generated a five-point lead only to have the Poets find a way to answer back.
After Hanna sank back-to-back three-pointers, the Bulldogs went up by a score of 68-65 with 6:34 to go.
Although Whittier tied it up at 68, the Maroon and Gray lit up the scoreboard over the next three minutes to earn a 10-2 run for the late-game surge it needed to pull away. D. Menary played a big part in this scoring spree with six of the points, while Hanna snagged a steal for a key defensive play. In addition, the Bulldogs did their part to push the Poets into tough shots, which kept their scoring to a minimum.
In the final three minutes, the Poets were forced to foul but the Bulldogs stepped up for a 10-for-11 showing at the stripe to maintain their lead.
Although Whittier had its chances with multiple late shots from downtown, none would fall, allowing Redlands to come home with the 87-77 victory.
Hanna finished with a career-high 21 points off of 4-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc and a 5-for-6 effort at the charity stripe. He also supplied six rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Sponheim added 19 points, six rebounds, and five assists, while the Menary brothers chipped in 12 points apiece. Bandow led the bench brigade with 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting.
As a team, Redlands shot 52.5% overall, 46.4% from deep, and 92.3% from the free-throw line.
With the win, Redlands (11-7, 6-3 SCIAC) moves into a tie for third place in the conference standings. The Bulldogs head to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Saturday, January 26, for a 7 p.m. tilt against the Stags.