PASADENA (Jan. 17, 2018) – The Caltech men's basketball team played its part in a historic game that saw several firsts, milestones reached and the Beavers on the positive side of a buzzer-beater Wednesday evening against visiting California Lutheran University.
Aided by an extra 10 points in the overtime frame, the Beavers hit triple figures for the first time since a 2004-05 game against the University of Redlands, while also breaking their own record from just one game ago for the most team three-pointers (17) in a single game. Moreover, Wednesday's game marks the first statistically recorded game in which three Beavers have reached at least 20 points. The trio consisted of freshman guard Marcus Gee (Santa Monica, Calif. / Santa Monica) - who tied the Caltech single-game three-point record for individuals with seven to go with 26 points - freshman forward Spencer Schneider (Houston, Texas / Clearbrook) (20 points) and senior wing David Kawashima (Studio City, Calif. / North Hollywood), who notched a career-high 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting to go along with six assists and four rebounds. He also contributed two three-pointers to his team's lofty sum and for Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger, Kawashima's stat line comes as no surprise given his body of work over the last four years.
"He can do things I have neither seen nor coached before," Eslinger said. "A lot of the things he does haven't been taught to him by us, but we utilize it and maximize it. We've really worked on his shooting and he's become a great basketball player. I'm proud of him too because he hasn't started every game this year, but he's such a great teammate and captain that he'll do whatever he needs to do for the team. Now, he's matured into a great player and leader and he is the typical senior I like to cultivate in this program."
Caltech's 63 second-half points are another record for the men's basketball program. All were necessary, given the Beavers trailed the Kingsmen, 56-30, at halftime and needed to play with a sense of urgency to get back within striking distance. While the hosts may have found their shooting stroke early in the half, it took until the 13-minute mark for Caltech to figure out Cal Lutheran defensively. The Beavers went on to shoot nearly 60-percent from the field in the second half, and the strong shooting game helped spark the team in other areas. Sophomore forward Calvin Huh (Fort Lee, N.J. / Bergen Tech) followed up a quiet first half with a monstrous second that led to him finishing with 10 points and 12 rebounds for the first double-double of his career.
Trailing by 25 points at the time (and by as many as 28 at one point), the Beavers outscored the Kingsmen 42-19 in the game's final 13 minutes to give themselves a chance to tie or win the game with seven seconds to go. In need of at least two points to extend the game, Eslinger drew up a play for freshman guard Gokul Srinivasaragavan (San Ramon, Calif. / Dougherty Valley) to drive to the hoop with the hope of finishing, drawing a foul or both to set up a three-point play. Instead, the first-year guard got flushed out of the driving lane, and instead put back a jumper from just inside the three-point line with 0.4 seconds on the clock to tie the game and send it to overtime.
"Gokul was sick the prior night and earlier in the day and wasn't even supposed to play tonight," Eslinger said. "That's another example of the toughness we try to cultivate on this team. When he did show for the game, I knew he was going to help us. I wasn't sure how, especially given how tonight played out, but I was happy for him. It's just too bad he wasn't just a couple more inches back or he would've won it for us."
The Beavers' perimeter offense had their opponents on their heels for the majority of the game and took momentum into the overtime period. The hosts led by as many as three points with just two minutes to go, but the visitors fought back and ultimately went on to claim a victory that nearly slipped through their fingertips. Even in defeat, the Beavers, upbeat about their tremendous showing of tenacity, refused to hang their heads in defeat, and instead are looking forward to the remainder of their SCIAC schedule.
"It feels a lot better to go into overtime than to lose by 30," Eslinger said. "Obviously we want to win every game we play and we did not come out on top on the scoreboard this time, but we made winning plays and we felt what 'winning time' is. In a lot of ways, I feel this game sets us up for a lot more wins in the future. While we didn't win, we were still victorious and there are lessons to be taught in that.
Eslinger and the Beavers will look to refresh themselves before traveling to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges for Saturday's 5 p.m. game.