CLAREMONT, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2015) – Sophomore Nick Buoniconti (Orlando, Fla. / Lake Highland Prep) led several players who came off the bench to impress with a six-point, eight-rebound effort in just 19 minutes as the Caltech men's basketball team took on Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Thursday night.
"We received great, energetic contributions from our bench tonight," Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger said. "Nick was huge, he really made an impact on both ends."
The Stags outshot the Beavers 49-30 percent from the field and 36-24 percent from beyond the arc while also winning the rebound battle (+5) to improve to 16-5 overall and 9-3 in the SCIAC. The Beavers, despite forcing more turnovers than their opponent for the first time this season (9-10) and doubling up on second-chance points (16-8), dip to 3-18 (2-10).
"This was the first time all season we won the turnover battle, and we earned more shots than them – the guys were happy about that," Eslinger said.
CMS stormed out to an 11-0 lead as Caltech could not hit a basket in the opening seven minutes. The Stags offense kept firing to maintain the double-figure lead, with SCIAC leading scorer Tyler Gaffaney really distancing his team with consecutive treys and a pair of free throws within just 43 seconds late in the first half to take a 34-18 lead into the break.
Junior Kc Emezie (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge) came out of halftime on a mission, scoring Caltech's first eight points on four consecutive shots to pull back within 12 at 38-26 with 17:10 on the clock. Unfortunately for the Beavers, they would suffer through another scoring drought over the next eight minutes, falling behind 52-26. Back-to-back three-pointers by senior Bryan Joel (Bethesda, Md. / Walt Whitman) and sophomore Ricky Galliani (Menlo Park, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep) sparked a late 18-8 run that cut the final deficit to 16, with the Beavers ultimately matching the Stags point-for-point in the second half.
"We all came out more spirited in the second half and it looked like we would cut it to single digits, but we had some good looks go in and out," Eslinger said. "We had some good looks overall and the second half showed we can get good play from a lot of guys."
Emezie led the Beavers with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting in just 24 minutes while Buoniconti's eight rebounds paced the squad. Freshman David Kawashima (Studio City, Calif. / North Hollywood) chipped in four points on 2-of-3 shooting and one assist in just five minutes.
"Nick, Ty [Ochse], David and Lawrence [Lee] provided good spirit and effort and allowed our starters to regroup," Eslinger said. "DK really sparked us late. The start put us in a tough spot, but we will rest and be ready and recharge for Saturday."
Eslinger and the Beavers will head to Pomona-Pitzer Colleges (8-13, 6-6) on Saturday, Feb. 14.