PASADENA, CA – The Whittier College men's basketball team used a solid defensive effort en route to a 76-66 win over Caltech on Saturday evening.
The Poets forced Caltech into 26 turnovers which helped them hold a 27-13 edge in points off turnovers.
Caltech's Alex Runkel produced the best game of his career by tallying an 18-rebound, 12-point effort in 38 minutes of action. The rebounding total ties a SCIAC season high for rebounds in a game and is new career best for the senior. His minutes played also represented a career high. It was his first double-double of the season and second of his career.
"We did a great job of controlling the tempo at times. This team showed signs of improvement this week which is an encouraging sign as we get ready for the second half of league play," fifth year head coach Oliver Eslinger said.
Michael Edwards started the game with a three-pointer on the Beavers first possession but eight unanswered points from Whittier gave them the lead for the remainder of the half. However, the visitors never pushed their lead into double figures.
The Poets held a 20-11 lead just before the midway point of the half but Caltech was able to dwindle down their deficit. A pair of Collin Murphy free throws with 5:15 left capped off a 15-8 scoring spurt to bring the Beavers within two at 28-26. However, Whittier closed the half on a 12-7 scoring spree to take a 40-33 lead into the locker room.
Early in the second half the Poets took a 45-33 lead, the largest lead of the evening, on a Tyree Landrum three-point play with 17:42 on the clock. A defiant Caltech squad fought back by scoring 16 of the next 22 points in cutting their deficit to 52-49 with 12:12 left in the game.
Whittier kept their lead between five and seven points over seven-plus minutes as they teams traded points. The Poets sealed the game with a late scoring drive. Leading 62-57, the Poets went on an 8-1 scoring spurt to all but seal the game. Caltech got within six points at 70-64 with 2:02 left but couldn't pull any closer.
In addition to Runkel's evening, the Beavers placed three other players in double figures. Edwards had a game high 21 points while Kc Emezie (16) and Bryan Joel (10) came off the bench to aid in Caltech's scoring effort.
Whitter was led by Landrum's 18-point effort.