Photo by Noelle Davis
PASADENA (Feb. 16, 2017) – Senior Nasser Al-Rayes (Doha, Qatar / American School of Doha) has put together some of the best games of his career down the stretch this season and Thursday night proved to be no exception.
Al-Rayes had the game of his life as the Beavers fell to the University of La Verne and its high-octane offense. The center scored a career-high 37 points, which looks especially nice next to his career-high 18 rebounds. Sixteen of his rebounds came on defense. The big man shot 50 percent from the field, but the key to his career line came at the free throw line. After a stretch of games hovering around a 55-percent team free throw percentage, Al-Rayes carried the load at the charity stripe by sinking 14 of his 16 free throw attempts. He also connected on one three-pointer coupled with a nice hesitation move and contributed all three of his team's blocks. Al-Rayes played nearly the entire game and the Beavers needed him in order to keep things competitive with La Verne for most of the first half. Al-Rayes' total saw him finish one point behind the program record for points in a single NCAA game.
The Leopards went into halftime with a 53-39 lead and continued to pull away in the second half, spured by a 13-3 run between 10:52 and 7:24. As much as the Leopards were unable to contain Al-Rayes, they doubled their efforts to outscore the Beavers, who without Al-Rayes made just 12 field goals and 10 free throws. Caltech's greatest moments came early and actually led by one just six minutes into the game thanks to a pair of Andrew Wang (Germantown, Md. / Poolesville). La Verne seized a 10 point with 8:14 remaining in the first half, but the Beavers hung with its SCIAC foe for as long as possible. Al-Rayes' free throws contributed to this, as he went 8-for-8 at the line in the half's final three minutes.
In addition to Al-Rayes, senior David LeBaron (San Diego, Calif. / Francis Parker) scored 10 points. He also went 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Freshman Alec Andrews (Folsom, Calif. / Folsom) and sophomore Brent Cahill (Laguna Beach, Calif. / St. Margaret's), two players who will be undeniably important to the Beavers' future success each had eight points. Andrews, along with senior Ricky Galliani (Menlo Park, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep) each had two assists.
Head Coach Oliver Eslinger and the Beavers will turn their attention towards their final home game of the season when they take on Pomona-Pitzer College on Saturday at 7 p.m.