Photo by Bob Paz
PASADENA (Jan. 5, 2019) – The Caltech men's basketball team met up with Occidental College for the second time this season and once again held the undefeated Tigers to their lowest point total of 2018-19. The Beavers previously accomplished that feat in the 110 Rivalry game, as no team had held the Tigers to fewer than 68 points since. On Saturday, Caltech held its conference rival to 61.
"We are progressing," Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger said. "Our league is very good and it's important we continue to stay the course. Our defense gave us a great chance tonight and we executed well. Our team knows we can compete with anyone and it's a really great group."
The Beavers effectively carried out their gameplan over the game's first 15 minutes, effectively attacking some of Oxy's top playmakers and handing out a couple early fouls while attempting to control the tempo. Through the first 13 minutes of action, the Beavers led the Tigers by one with both teams struggling to break the 20-point threshold. Both teams did well in taking care of the basketball but the Beavers succeeded in decreasing the turnover differential in their favor with just 11 turnovers to Oxy's nine.
The visiting team's length broke up the Beavers' ability to catch and shoot with Caltech assisting on just 10 baskets, although still finding ways to the basket. Three players finished in double-figures for the home team, including freshman Noah Barnes (Springfield, Va. / Jefferson) and sophomores Marcus Gee (Santa Monica, Calif. / Santa Monica) and Spencer Schneider (Houston, Texas / Clearbrook) with the latter two each scoring 13 points. Each of the three also contributed with their own highlights. Barnes scored 10 of his points in the first half and used his athleticism to create open looks, while Gee had a career rebounding day with eight boards and Schneider created his own fast break, going between the legs off a steal to finish in transition.
Caltech needed to lean on its starters more than usual on Saturday, particularly in the second half but ultimately showed signs of improvement from last Wednesday's SCIAC opener at California Lutheran University. However, the Beavers still recognize there is still room to grow and work to be done, particularly on the glass.
"I think we could have rebounded a lot better, especially on the defensive side of the ball," Gee said. "That was a big emphasis going into the game and I think we did for stretches and it showed in the box. But when we didn't rebound as well, that's when they had their runs. We also just need to knock down the open shots. We got the looks this time, but just didn't knock down as many as we would have liked."
Eslinger and the Beavers will have a quick turnaround when they host defending conference champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges in the annual Orange Out game on Monday, Jan. 7.