SAN DIEGO (Nov. 7, 2015) – The Caltech men's basketball team took away a number of positives from its season-opening exhibition game at Division I University of San Diego in front of 1,014 in attendance at the Jenny Craig Pavilion on Saturday night.
This marked the second straight year that Caltech played an exhibition game against a Division I opponent following last year – the program's first ever – against Cal State Fullerton.
"This was a great opportunity for our guys to play against some top-end athleticism," Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger. "They are so quick and can make adjustments on the fly, which hurt us on the offensive boards and fast break, but we did well with our halfcourt defense in the first half, even contesting most of the shots they were able to hit."
Caltech showcased some solid halfcourt defense, improved ballhandling and more aggression highlighted by some eye-catching individual performances. The Beavers took some time to shake the early nerves, but junior Ricky Galliani (Menlo Park, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep) jumpstarted the team with a pair of three-pointers and Caltech soon pulled back within four at 13-9. The Toreros began to separate themselves midway through the half and extended the lead to 20 by the break, although Caltech had several big moments. Sophomore David Kawashima (Studio City, Calif. / North Hollywood) juked his defender with a slick up-and-under move on the baseline for a bucket before Galliani earned and converted a tough and-one. Junior Nasser Al-Rayes (Doha, Qatar / American School of Doha) hit a pair of free throws and cherry-picked the defense at the other end for an easy bucket.
"Ricky really stood out with his aggression and composure, playing at 100 percent like he does every day in practice," Eslinger said. "He was focused, energetic and playing at the high level we've envisioned for him as a perimeter threat, playmaker and tough defender."
USD continued to pull away in the second half, but once again the Beavers had their share of positives. A hustle play by junior David LeBaron (San Diego, Calif. / Francis Parker) saw the wing strip the ball from a Torero as he brought down a defensive rebound, then flip it over to senior Kc Emezie (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge) for the uncontested layup. Junior Lawrence Lee (Hong Kong / Hong Kong International School) rolled in a tough layup a few minutes later and then Emezie lit it up on consecutive possessions with another reverse layup before drilling a three-pointer.
Emezie led the Beavers with 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting (2-of-5 from three) while Galliani netted 13 on 4-of-9 (3-of-5). LeBaron and Kawashima dished out five and three assists, respectively, as Al-Rayes, LeBaron and Lee pulled down six rebounds each. Al-Rayes added two blocks and to go with seven points in just 24 minutes.
"DK and David did great jobs directing the show and playmaking as the lead guards," Eslinger said. "DK showed some fight offensively and mixed it up on the boards, while David gave us his all and played exactly how we need a guard to in our system. Our rookie, Brent Cahill, had moments too where we can see him turning into a very good defensive player thanks to his athleticism and instincts to make plays at that end."
Head Coach Oliver Eslinger and the Beavers tip off the 2015-16 regular season on Saturday, Nov. 14 at Occidental College in the annual 110 Freeway Rivalry.