Photo by Bob Palermini
PASADENA, Calif. (Jan. 13, 2016) – Junior Nasser Al-Rayes (Doha, Qatar / American School of Doha) dominated in the post and was perfect from beyond the arc in the Caltech men's basketball team's first SCIAC defeat of the season, which came at the hands of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges, 64-56, on Wednesday night.
The Beavers rode hot starts in each half but a pair of lengthy scoreless droughts allowed the Stags to pull back in and away with the game to record their first conference victory of the season. CMS outshot the Beavers 47-38 percent from the field and 47-22 percent from long range and, uncharacteristically for Caltech, outrebounded (30-26) and outscored the hosts in the paint (24-16).
Despite the loss, Caltech still retains a share of the lead atop the SCIAC standings as one of four teams at 3-1. The Beavers also dip to 5-8 overall while CMS climbs into a four-way tie for sixth place at 1-3 (6-6).
Caltech sprinted out of the gates to a 12-5 lead by the 15:40 mark. Al-Rayes began the scoring by knocking down a three-pointer and hit a jumper on the next possession, with both baskets coming via assists from junior David LeBaron (San Diego, Calif. / Francis Parker). Senior Kc Emezie (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge) hit a jumper the next trip down the court and junior Lawrence Lee (Hong Kong / Hong Kong International School) grabbed an offensive rebound and scored the putback for Caltech's fourth basket in as many possessions. Junior Ricky Galliani (Menlo Park, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep) then converted an and-one opportunity on another LeBaron assist for the seven-point lead.
The Beavers extended the margin to 10 at 17-7 with 12:13 on the clock, but CMS stormed back to take the lead at 21-19 as Caltech scored just one basket over the next seven minutes. The Stags would extend the lead to seven by halftime, where the score stood at 30-23.
Coming out of halftime, a rested starting five for Caltech immediately regained the lead on consecutive jumpers by Lee, Galliani and Al-Rayes, with another trifecta from Al-Rayes flipping the score line in the Beavers' favor. Another rough seven-minute patch saw Caltech net just three points to CMS's nine as the Stags went ahead 41-35 with 9:33 remaining in the game, but Emezie and Lee generated a quick flurry of points on a pair of free throws and three-point play to make it a one-basket game. Al-Rayes then knocked down his third triple in as many attempts to tie the game at 43-43 with 6:59 on the clock.
The Stags seemingly could not miss from that point on, however, as they surged ahead by as many as 15 with just 43 seconds left to play. Caltech would hit just one more basket over the final seven minutes, but earned several late trips to the free throw line to tighten things back up down the stretch, ultimately falling by eight.
Al-Rayes just missed a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds to go with four blocks and two steals while shooting 5-for-9 from the field and a perfect 3-for-3 from long range. Lee led Caltech with 14 points as he went 4-for-6 from inside the arc and Galliani chipped in 11 points, going 3-for-4 within 21 feet of the basket. LeBaron dished out four assists, scored eight points and grabbed six boards.
Emezie also scored eight points to pull within three of 1,000 for his career. The senior wing is on the verge of becoming just the 13th player in program history to reach the milestone and the first since all-time leading scorer Mike Edwards '13.
Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger and the Beavers host Pomona-Pitzer Colleges (6-6, 1-3) on Saturday, Jan. 16 at 5 p.m. preceding the women's matchup.