THOUSAND OAKS, CA – For the second straight game Caltech battled their opponent to the final possession. Unfortunately for the Beavers the result remained the same as they fell in an overtime thriller to Cal Lutheran 63-60.
In a game that saw the lead change hands four times, tied on 13 occasions neither team held a lead larger than five points. The down-to-the-wire contest saw the Beavers set season highs in a handful of categories as they fought tooth-and-nail with one of the top teams in the SCIAC.
The Kingsmen jumped out to a 7-2 lead; their largest of the entire game. Caltech quickly turned that five point hole into a 13-9 lead. Caltech grabbed their first lead of the game with 13:09 left until halftime. They wouldn't trail the rest of regulation.
A dunk by Kc Emezie with eight minutes left in the first half gave Caltech it largest lead of the game at 23-18. The home team would tie the score three times the rest of the half but would never grab the lead. The Beavers went into the locker room holding a 30-28 lead.
Caltech continued to play steady with the lead at the start of the second half. Cal Lutheran tied the score four times - at 34, 36, 38 and 40 points each - but a stingy Beavers defense wouldn't allow them to pull in front. Caltech put some space between them and the home team as a three-point play by Emezie and a jumper by David LeBaron on consecutive possessions pushed the lead to 45-41 with 6:04 left.
An Arik Smith lay-up tied the scored just over two minutes later at 45-45. When Caltech nudged in front and 47-45 and again at 49-47, Cal Lutheran tied the score each time. Andrew Hogue gave Caltech some breathing room in the game's closing minutes with back-to-back lay-ups to put his team in front 53-49 with 1:23 remaining in the half.
Smith got the Caltech lead down to a single possession with a three-point play 24 seconds later. An undeterred Beavers squad responded with a Lawrence Lee jumper which handed the visitors a 55-52 edge with 41 ticks remaining. Needing a three-pointer, Smith came up big again for the home team as he connected on a shot from behind the arc with 33 seconds left. On Caltech's final opportunity they worked the ball to Hogue but his jumper was blocked by Collin Knudson as time expired.
Caltech got on the scoreboard first in overtime when Luke Lango nailed a three-pointer. Corey Quintana brought the Kingsmen within one point as he made a jumper less than a minute later. With the Beavers holding a 58-57 edge, Hogue upped the lead to three points on Caltech next chance. Trailing 60-57 with just under two minutes remaining, Jeremy Sulker-Hall made one of two shots from the charity stripe.
The game's momentum shifted towards the Kingsmen in the game's next minute. The Beavers turned the ball over on their next chance. Down by two, the Kingsmen missed two straight shots but grabbed the offensive rebound. Quintana made one of two from the foul line but another Kingsmen offensive rebound kept the ball with the home team. Smith gave Cal Lutheran's it first lead since early in the first half as he converted a lay-up with 57 seconds remaining.
Trailing 61-60, Hogue took a jumper late in the shot clock but his attempt didn't find the bottom of the net. Caltech was forced to foul. Coltrane Powdrill drained both free throws with 15 seconds left. Coming out of a 30-second timeout the Beavers got the ball into Hogue's hands but his three-pointer at the buzzer didn't fall.
While the Beavers didn't come away with the win they put a huge scare into a team that is currently third in the league standings and who won at Caltech by 24 points earlier this season.
For the first time this season Caltech placed five players in double figures. Leading the way was Lango's 13-point effort. The first-year's team high performance came while playing all but one of the contest's 45 minutes. Hogue recorded a 12-point, seven-rebound evening. LeBaron also grabbed seven rebounds to go along with his 11 points off the bench. Lee and Emezie each chipped in 10 points.
The Beavers had one of their best defensive efforts of the season as they held the Kingsmen to 21 field goals. If you take out the two made field goals the Kingsmen had in overtime, it marks the fewest made field goals a Caltech opponent had this season.
Smith had a game high 22 points on the strength of an 8-for-15 shooting effort.