NEWBERG, Ore. (Nov. 21, 2014) – Sophomore Lawrence Lee (Hong Kong / Hong Kong International School) set a new Caltech men's basketball record for points in a game and completed the double-double to lead five Beavers in double-figure scoring in a superb game against up-tempo George Fox University on Friday night.
Lee poured in 38 points to set a new program mark for an NCAA game (previously 35), sinking 14 field goals to set a second record (previously 13), besting both of Mike Edwards' marks while completing his second career double-double with 10 rebounds.
"Larry is one heck of a player and got into a great groove," Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger raved. "We saw it at points last year and I know he has been eager for his time, which tonight clearly was."
The Beavers led through the majority of the game before the Bruins pulled ahead late and held on for the 99-96 victory. Both teams played at their peak throughout a game in which neither led by double digits at any point, with Caltech just edging out George Fox in shooting percentage (56.5-54.2) but unable to keep pace beyond the arc (36.8-52.2) or at the charity stripe (76.0-85.2). Caltech improved its rebounding margin on the season to near-double-digits with a 12-board edge, including 15 on the offensive glass, and forced 11 of the Bruins' 13 turnovers on steals. George Fox moves above .500 at 2-1 overall while Caltech is now 0-2.
"That was a fun game to coach," Eslinger beamed. "When players are executing in a close game and you know you can make adjustments on the fly, that's a good experience."
Caltech jumped out to an early lead for the second time in as many games this season, going up as much as five at 7-2 before George Fox tied it up at 15-15 after five minutes of play. After another tie at 19-19, the Beavers pulled ahead for the next four minutes behind six straight points from Lee until a three-pointer gave the Bruins a 28-26 lead at the nine-minute mark.
Seven unanswered points from the Beavers made the score 33-28, but the Bruins would still not go away, scoring five points of their own to even the score at 33-33 with 6:30 on the clock and again leveling at 38-38 with 3:51 remaining in the first half.
The Beavers finally were able to stretch out the lead a bit as the half wound down, going up by seven at 48-41 with 1:51 left to play, but the Bruins yet again clawed back within one point with just 20 seconds remaining behind six unanswered points. After Lee drew a foul and sank both free throws on the next possession, George Fox hit a jumper with 11 seconds left on the clock, but senior Bryan Joel (Bethesda, Md. / Walt Whitman) sank a three-pointer at the buzzer to send Caltech into halftime with every ounce of momentum behind a 53-49 lead.
As the second half got underway, George Fox quickly pulled back within one at 57-56. The Beavers stretched out to a game-high eight-point lead at 67-59 on a three-pointer by sophomore Luke Lango (San Diego, Calif. / Pacific Ridge School), but the Bruins finally found their footing and took the lead at the 10:51 mark. George Fox extended the lead to six over the next two minutes before it was Caltech's turn to strike back, as an 8-2 run evened the score at 78-78 with 6:24 remaining in the game.
George Fox briefly regained the lead before senior Andrew Hogue (Arroyo Grande, Calif. / Arroyo Grande) put the Beavers up by one at 82-81 with 5:15 left to play, but the Bruins hit their shots when it mattered most, rattling off seven straight points to take a six-point lead at 88-82.
The final minutes proved even more exciting than the incredible buildup. Still down seven points at 92-85 with 1:14 on the clock, Lango hit a jumper and Joel came up with a steal late in the Bruins' ensuing possession to allow Lee the chance to bring Caltech within a basket at 92-89 with just 34 seconds to go. George Fox hit four free throws over their next two possessions to retake the seven-point edge, but Lango responded with a quick three-pointer to cut the margin back to four.
With the Beavers unable to steal the inbounds pass, they were forced to foul and George Fox again sank both free throws to build back up a six-point lead. Caltech broke back up court and sophomore Ricky Galliani (Menlo Park, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep) found Lee for a layup with seven seconds remaining, then deflected a pass to Lee, who once again sank the layup to bring the Beavers within just three points with four seconds left on the clock. Down to their final hope, the Beavers fouled to send the Bruins to the line, and a miss on the first free throw gave Caltech the chance to send the game into overtime. The Beavers were unable to get off a shot, however, and left on the short end of an incredible game.
"We got great play from every single player on the team tonight," Eslinger said. "There was terrific team chemistry on the bench as well as the floor, with everyone really rooting for one another."
Lee's 38 points and 10 rebounds led both teams, while Hogue, Lango, Joel and junior Kc Emezie (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge) all joined him in double-digit scoring, with Hogue and Lango combining to shoot an impressive 10-of-16 from the field and 4-of-6 from downtown. Joel added four steals while Galliani registered three assists.
"We know we can score lots of points in different ways; we can play fast and we can perform in the halfcourt," Eslinger said. "Most of all, we want to control the game and set the tempo to our own rhythm. These games against such fast-paced teams have really demonstrated how much we have developed as a program, and should set a good stage for us to build on as the season unfolds."
Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger and the Beavers will look to claim their first victory of the season at Willamette University (0-2) tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. The game will be available online via live video stream and Live stats, both of which can be accessed through the team's schedule page at GoCaltech.com.