For the first time since the 2015-16 season, the University of Redlands men's basketball team punched its ticket to the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Postseason Tournament. With wins in nine of the last 12 contests, the Bulldogs enter the tournament as the No. 4 seed and travels to top-seeded Pomona-Pitzer Colleges on Friday, February 22, for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
After closing the season with a scoring margin of 15.3 points in their final three wins, Redlands holds great momentum for the postseason.
Senior guard Joey Sponheim (Redlands, CA) brings leadership and experience as the only current Bulldog to have competed in the SCIAC Postseason Tournament during the team's trip in 2015-16. Three years later, he ranks seventh in the SCIAC in scoring with 17.2 points per game while also contributing 3.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists a game. Junior forward David Menary (Grass Valley, CA) adds to the Maroon and Gray's firepower as the second-leading scorer in the conference with 20.3 points per game during SCIAC action this season. He also shoots at an efficient clip of 55.1%, which places him third. The offense runs through the duo, as Sponheim and Menary account for 47% of the scoring and 41% of the assists for the Bulldogs in 2018-19.
As a team, Redlands owns one of the toughest defenses in the SCIAC with a conference-high 7.2 steals per game. Sophomore guard Michael Hanna (Murrieta, CA), first-year forward Gary Menary (Grass Valley, CA), and Sponheim each have 20 or more steals. The team protects the paint at a high caliber with 3.4 blocks per game, which is good for third in the SCIAC. Sophomore forward Parker Landolf (Alamo, CA) paces the team with 13 on the season. With a fast-paced offense, the Maroon and Gray has scored a fourth-best 77.9 points per game among the conference.
With a 23-2 overall record and a 15-1 mark in conference, Pomona-Pitzer gained a national ranking of No. 14 in the latest D3hoops.com poll. The Sagehens took an early loss in November to Washington University (MO) of St. Louis but did not lose again until shouldering a 63-64 decision to Occidental College on February 16.
The Sagehens bring forth a balanced attack with each of their starters averaging seven or more points, including senior guard Daniel Rosenbaum's team-leading 19.0 points per game. Junior guard Micah Elan averages 15.6 points, while sophomore forward Alex Preston joins the two in double-figures with 12.0 points per game.
As a team, Pomona-Pitzer leads the conference in scoring at a rate of 83.0 points per game. The Sagehens also shoot 50.4% from the field and average 39.0 rebounds, which places them second in the conference for each category.
During the teams' first meeting on January 2, the Bulldogs won the second half and knocked down a season-high 15 three-pointers, but the Sagehens prevailed by a score of 82-77. Menary led the Bulldogs with 19 points, while Rosenbaum paced the Sagehens with 23 on the night. Pomona-Pitzer also captured an 81-68 victory on the road on January 30.
In Friday's other SCIAC semifinal, No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges (13-3, 19-6 SCIAC) hosts No. 3 Occidental College (12-4, 21-4 SCIAC) at 7 p.m. The victors of the semifinals will match up in the final on Saturday, February 23, at the site of the highest remaining seed. The SCIAC Postseason Tournament Champion will earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships.