Caltech Reclaims SCIAC Lead, Beats Pomona-Pitzer for First Time Since Popovich Era

Caltech Reclaims SCIAC Lead, Beats Pomona-Pitzer for First Time Since Popovich Era

PASADENA, Calif. (Jan. 16, 2016) – In a season of historic achievements, the Caltech men's basketball team added another pair as senior Kc Emezie (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge) scored his 1,000th career point in the Beavers' first victory over Pomona-Pitzer Colleges since the legendary Gregg Popovich coached the Sagehens with a 67-58 victory on Saturday night.

"We're all really proud of Kc – that's a great accomplishment," Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger said.  "I honestly wasn't even thinking about it and I know he wasn't either.  Tonight was all about the team effort to get the win, and it's fitting because that's exactly the way he thinks."

With the win, Caltech reclaims sole possession of first place in the SCIAC and has now shared or held the top spot in the conference outright for two full weeks, improving to 6-8 overall and 4-1 in the SCIAC while Pomona-Pitzer drops to 6-7 (1-4).

"We don't really think about being in first place," Eslinger said.  "The guys do a great job of focusing on the next practice, the next opponent, the next opportunity to improve.  That's our identity – a total team effort in every win and always looking to get better."

Pomona-Pitzer jumped out to a 7-2 lead and held a seven-point margin at 20-13 midway through the first half, but Caltech made it a one-point game with 4:09 left in the period and entered halftime trailing by five.

 The Beavers offense clicked on all cylinders immediately after the break as junior Ricky Galliani (Menlo Park, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep) hit a quick jumper and three-pointer followed by an and-one play from junior David LeBaron (San Diego, Calif. / Francis Parker) to give Caltech the 32-29 lead just a minute-and-a-half into the second stanza.  The Sagehens cut the deficit back to one but sophomore David Kawashima (Studio City, Calif. / North Hollywood) drove for a layup and dished to Emezie for another and the five-point lead, after which Caltech never allowed the visitors to pull back within a basket. 

Caltech steadily increased the margin to as many as 13 with 57 seconds remaining and sealed the deal thanks to freshman Brent Cahill (Laguna Beach, Calif. / Laguna Beach) hitting five of eight free throws in the final minute for the Beavers' last five points.

"I'm really proud of our coaching staff for identifying a couple key adjustments at the half and how perfectly our guys responded to them," Eslinger said.  "And to put on that type of display on Alumni Day in front of our former players who have helped make all this possible, we can look back on a great day of memories with a competitive alumni game followed by an historic win."

Cahill led Caltech with 17 points on 5-for-7 shooting off the bench, with Emezie and LeBaron adding 11 and 10, respectively.  Junior Nasser Al-Rayes (Doha, Qatar / American School of Doha) pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked four shots while chipping in nine points.  Kawashima contributed nine points, eight rebounds, two steals and an assist in just 23 minutes as a substitute.

"Brent was impactful tonight," Eslinger said.  "The great thing about him is that he just does what we ask him to do, and immediately. 

Eslinger and the Beavers head to defending tri-champion Chapman University (9-4, 3-2) on Wednesday, Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m.  Livestats and video streaming links can be accessed through the team's schedule page at GoCaltech.com.

 

 

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