LOS ANGELES, CA – Down as many as 15 points, the Caltech men's basketball team made a valiant comeback but came up just short as they fell 78-71 to Occidental on Wednesday evening.
The opening minutes of the first half were played at a frenetic pace. During the game's first ten minutes there were three lead changes and five ties. The teams combined to score 46 points before the stanza's halfway mark. Caltech jumped out to a quick 8-3 advantage 2:30 into the contest. However, Occidental slowly nudged ahead in grabbing a 16-13 lead with 14:32 left until intermission.
The Beavers quickly clawed back and retook the lead after Michael Edwards nailed a three-pointer and jumper on back-to-back possessions. The middle portion of the first half saw Occidental regain the lead but Caltech kept it close until the last 4:20 of the frame. Already leading 33-30, the Tigers finished the half on a 16-5 scoring run to take a 49-35 lead into the locker room.
Occidental built their lead by converting on 59.4 percent (19-of-32) of their field goal attempts. Caltech went 12-for-30 (40 percent) from the floor but only scored on two of their final 11 possessions in the first half during the home team's critical run.
The home squad took their largest lead of the night less than a minute into the second half when an Eric Leider lay-up gave his team a 51-36 lead. From that point on, Caltech chipped away.
An Edwards' three-pointer cut the Beaver's deficit to 61-53 with just under 9:30 left in the game. Caltech continued to press into their discrepancy. On Caltech's next six of seven possessions they added to their point total to tie the score at 68-68 with 5:01 remaining. However, Caltech couldn't get over the hump.
Occidental took the lead for good on their next possession. During Caltech's next eight offensive opportunities, they turned the ball over six times, made one field while missing another. Occidental did just enough at the foul line down the stretch to seal the win.
Edwards scored a team high 20 points to aid in the Beavers cause. The senior hit seven field goals, including three from behind the arc. Alex Runkel had his best game of the season by scoring a career high 15 points while grabbing eight rebounds. Collin Murphy also had a career night by scoring 16 points before fouling out.
The Tigers offense was led by Leider's 18-point evening.