Despite outscoring No. 15 Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in the second half, the University of Redlands men's basketball team came up short in a 68-81 loss in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) action on Wednesday night inside Currier Gym.
The Bulldogs came out energized against the conference leaders with tenacity on both ends of the court. Sophomore forward Parker Landolf(Alamo, CA) opened the scoring with a layup before sophomore guard Michael Hanna (Murrieta, CA) registered a block on defense. After Redlands made another stop, Hanna corralled the resulting rebound and pushed it forward to junior forward David Menary (Grass Valley, CA) for a quick 4-0 Bulldog advantage.
Although the Sagehens got things going with an 8-0 run for a four-point advantage by the 15:28-mark, the Maroon and Gray answered when Landolf hit a midrange jumper and Menary converted a free throw to cut the deficit to one point. Pomona-Pitzer stretched the lead once again to five, but junior guard Hass Berry (Riverside, CA) knocked down a tough jumper less than a minute after he checked into the game to make it a one-possession game.
A few minutes later, senior guard Joey Sponheim (Redlands, CA) stepped back for his first three-pointer of the night to make it 12-15 with 12:28 left in the half.
After the Sagehens threatened to distance themselves with another bucket from downtown, Menary found Berry for a Redlands trey to cut the lead to 15-20 as the game approached the 10-minute mark.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, Pomona-Pitzer eventually worked to gain a 28-17 advantage with 6:43 remaining in the half.
Nonetheless, the Maroon and Gray looked to its one-two punch of Sponheim and Menary to spark the offense, resulting in a combined nine points to close out the half. But, Pomona-Pitzer also remained hot and reached a 44-26 advantage by the break.
Although the Sagehens maintained their momentum into the second stanza, the Bulldogs did not go down without a fight and ultimately out-scored the visitors, 42-37. In addition, Redlands elevated its defensive effort and made quality stops. With 11:37 to go, Landolf came up with a block and then darted down the court for an emphatic dunk that energized the home team and the fans in Currier Gym. On the Sagehens' next possession, Hanna ripped the ball away for the steal, which led to another jumper from Landolf to make it 34-61 near the midway point of the half.
The Bulldogs stepped up for another defensive stop before Menary grabbed the board and took it coast-to-coast for a challenging and-one bucket. A couple of plays later, Hanna grabbed another steal and pushed the ball up to Menary, who rolled in a layup to culminate an 11-0 Bulldog run.
After nearly five minutes without a basket, Pomona-Pitzer finally scored to make it 63-39 with less than nine minutes to go. As the action continued, the Maroon and Gray continued to emphasize defense, as Landolf came up with a steal that led to a pair of successful free throws from Menary at the 7:37-mark.
Down the stretch, the Bulldogs capitalized from the charity stripe with 15 made free throws in the final seven minutes. This included nine successful trips from junior wing Brittian Foster (Long Beach, CA).
Unfortunately, it was not enough for Redlands, as the Sagehens came away with the win.
Menary paced all scorers with 22 points to go along with four rebounds, two assists, and a block. Sponheim provided 10 points, two rebounds, and three assists, while Foster scored nine off the bench in 10 minutes of game time. Landolf added nine points, four rebounds, two steals, and two blocks, and Hanna lifted the defense with four steals on the night.
Redlands (11-9, 6-5 SCIAC) remains in fourth place in the SCIAC standings with five games to go. The Bulldogs strive to bounce back on Wednesday, February 6, when they travel to Occidental College for a 7 p.m. tilt against the Tigers.