Photo: Noelle Davis
ORANGE, Calif. (Jan. 16, 2019) – The Caltech men's basketball team earned a crucial second SCIAC victory and took down Chapman University on the road for the first time since 53-54. The men's team last beat Chapman in Pasadena during the 2016-17 season and are now back in the thick of the conference playoff conversation.
"This win was super important because it showed us how good we can be when we play aggressive and with confidence," sophomore forward Spencer Schneider (Houston, Texas / Clearbrook) said. "It showed us that it doesn't matter who we're playing or where we're playing and that we always have what it takes to win. We just tried to have more fun with it tonight. When we're having a great time playing with each other, that's when we're most dangerous."
For the first time this season, Caltech beat its opponent from start to finish. The host Panthers struggled to get out of the gate and the stout Beavers defense prevented the home team from taking the lead throughout the game's entirety. The visitors continually found ways to turn stops into points and ended the game with 16 points off turnovers along with a 43-percent rate from deep. Sophomore guard Marcus Gee (Santa Monica, Calif. / Santa Monica) scored 23 points in just 24 minutes and made more baskets than he missed en route to a 4-for-6 shooting performance from three. He also had a season-high five steals and played a pivotal role in the Beavers' counter-attack. Junior guard Alec Andrews (Folsom, Calif. / Folsom) also contributed with a sound two-way game, scoring 10 points to go with four assists and two steals.
The 12-point victory is also Caltech's largest margin of victory this year, bucking the trend of down-to-the-wire wins.
"We stuck to our defensive principles and really held them in check," Andrews said. "We defended as a unit and didn't let them get into a rhythm."
The Beavers also rebounded better than in games past and got a big-time game from one particular player on the glass. Junior forward Ross Carter (Sudbury, Mass. / The Rivers School), one of the team's most improved players grabbed 14 rebounds, 11 of which came on the defensive end and helped secure the defensive stops Caltech needed to retain its lead throughout the entire game. Chapman attempted one final push down the stretch, but the visiting team put the game firmly out of reach with a Gee steal that became a Gee three-pointer two seconds later. Schneider, along with freshman Noah Barnes (Springfield, Va. / Jefferson) also finished in double-figures, while Barnes led the team with five assists. On the flipside of the stat sheet, freshman guard Stephen Hei (Newcastle, Wash. / Liberty) came off the bench to play 19 minutes, but took just two shots and was instead tasked with defending the Panthers along the perimeter and ultimately succeeded as the result indicates.
Caltech led Chapman, 31-23, at halftime. The Beavers entered the game with the confidence to compete with any team the SCIAC has to offer and will now have the chance to prove themselves over the second half of the SCIAC schedule.
"We went in there with a lot of confidence in each other and our ability to execute on both ends," Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger said. "Everyone stepped up and set the tone and kept making championship plays. It was a valuable victory for our program.
Eslinger and the Beavers will return to action this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. when they host undefeated Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, currently in sole possession of first place in the conference. The game will be Caltech's final game through the first half of SCIAC play.