Photo: Jack Goodwillie
PASADENA (Dec. 29, 2016) – If Thursday's game wasn't a "must win" for the Caltech men's basketball team, it was pretty close.
Nevertheless, freshman Alec Andrews (Folsom, Calif. / Folsom) and the Beavers put the non-league portion of their schedule in the rearview mirror when they defeated Colorado College, 80-71, Thursday at Braun Gymnasium.
Andrews led the way with 20 points and became just the second Beaver this season to his the 20-point plateau. The guard did his most significant damage within the Beavers' 27-9 run occurring between the 16 minute mark and four minute mark of the second half. Though he only contributed six of the team's 27 points, Andrews' contribution stemmed from two key three-pointers, halting the visiting Tigers' counter attack efforts. By the end of the run, Caltech led Colorado College by 17 points, its biggest lead of the season. Andrews also led the Beavers with four assists and went 5-for-8 from beyond the arc.
"Alec is an amazing person with a relentless work ethic," Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger said. "He is a tremendous leader and I'm very happy to see him having fun out there."
One key for the Beavers came in the form of winning the turnover battle. Caltech committed a season-low eight turnovers and no one player committed more than two turnovers. Another key was limiting the Tigers' chances from three-point territory. Trailing by two points going into the second half, Caltech limited their opponents to just two three-pointers in the game's final 20 minutes. At the price of 33 second half fouls spread between both teams, the Beavers tightened up on defense and afforded the Tigers no easy baskets.
"We wanted to keep attackingand be confident in every possession," Eslinger said. "The guys responded with great decisions and shot making and really locked down [on defense]. Our bench was awesome. The energy and rooting for one another is what we need on a regular basis. Even those who didn't play much are a big part of our prep and what we are doing out there."
Andrews was not the only Beaver to have success on the offensive end. Sophomore Brent Cahill (Laguna Beach, Calif. / St. Margaret's) provided 16 points off the bench and got to the free throw line a team-high nine times. Senior guard Ricky Galliani (Menlo Park, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep) scored 15 points and pulled down five rebounds. 12 of Galliani's points came in the first half. Meanwhile, senior big man Nasser Al-Rayes (Doha, Qatar / American School of Doha) came close to a double-double once again, scoring eight points to go with nine rebounds. Caltech also outshot Colorado College 44.1-40.7 percent.
"It feels great because we finally saw what we can do thanks to our players recovering from all the illnesses over the last month," Eslinger said. "Coming back from vacation and really making some adjustments and watching guys execute those was thrilling.
"We needed this for rhythm going into SCIAC next week."
Eslinger and the Beavers will pick up their schedule after the new year when they begin SCIAC play against the Whittier Poets at home on January 3rd.