Photo: Bob Paz
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (Feb. 22, 2017) – Senior Nasser Al-Rayes (Doha, Qatar / American School of Doha) concluded his Caltech career with a double-double as the Beavers lost their final game of the regular season at California Lutheran University.
Al-Rayes, who along with fellow seniors David LeBaron (San Diego, Calif. / Francis Parker) and Ricky Galliani (Menlo Park, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep) celebrated their senior night with a victory back on Saturday, made sure to end his career on a high note. He handled the the Kingsmen inside and came away with 23 points and 10 rebounds to go with a perfect 7-for-7 shooting line from the foul line, all of which came in the first half. While he did not register any blocks, he will go down as the SCIAC leader in blocks (1.9) and rebounds per game (8.5) this season.
In addition to Al-Rayes' stellar evening, the Beavers also received significant contributions from Galliani, LeBaron, freshman Alec Andrews (Folsom, Calif. / Folsom) and sophomore Brent Cahill (Laguna Beach, Calif. / St. Margaret's). Galliani scored 11 points to go with six rebounds while fellow senior LeBaron added nine points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals. Andrews led Caltech with four assists and ended his freshman year as the SCIAC runner-up in assists per game (3.3). Cahill, meanwhile, seconded the Beavers in scoring with 13 points. He also had four rebounds and two assists.
Unlike the Beavers' previous meeting with the Kingsmen when Caltech got completely overwhelemed by the speed and precision of its SCIAC foe, the visitors held their own early, as they have against all of the SCIAC's top teams at points this season. They never held the lead, but did get within two points when LeBaron knocked down a three-pointer at 14:02 in the first half. When Cal Lutheran tried to wriggle away, LeBaron responded again with a layup. After the two teams traded baskets in the middle of the period, the Kingsmen began to pull away when they went on a 28-16 run in the final 11 minutes of the half. Though both teams shot above 40-percent in the second half, the Kingsmen's first half advantage proved too steep for the Beavers to overcome. They also made 10 free throws to Caltech's two.
Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger and the Beavers (6-10 SCIAC) have ended the 2016-17 season in a three-way tie for fifth place. They picked up key wins against playoff-bound Pomona-Pitzer College (10-6 SCIAC) and the University of La Verne (10-6 SCIAC) and will graduate the winningest four-year senior class in recent memory.