PASADENA (Dec. 6, 2018) – Caltech had its moments against seven-win Johnson & Wales University (Denver), particularly in the second half of Thursday's men's basketball game.
The Beavers hung with the Wildcats for much of the first half and entered the second-half down by nine points and perfectly within striking distance, one offensive flurry away from a lead change. Caltech ended up tying JWU with just under 15 minutes to play in regulation thanks to a 10-1 run to open the second half, accentuated by a pair of jumpshots from freshmen Stephen Hei (Newcastle, Wash. / Liberty) and Riley O'Neil (Santa Rosa, Calif. / Montgomery). Late foul trouble and an uneven pace ultimately held the Beavers back from taking the lead and running with they but contended well with the Wildcats' talented individuals. A 5-for-5 night from Gokul Srinivasaragavan (San Ramon, Calif. / Dougherty Valley) at the free throw line boosted the Beavers throughout, but the home team ultimately ran out of time to mount one last run on the Denver natives.
"I don't think our opponents were that much different than the other teams we have played," junior guard Alec Andrews (Folsom, Calif. / Folsom) said. "I think they played a particular style and we needed to do better of dictating our pace of play for the full 40 minutes. When a team gets to play at their pace and they get to dictate, they're better able to succeed."
Caltech flashed its athleticism, however, most notably on the defensive side of the ball. O'Neil had two of Caltech's six blocks, a season-high for the team, including a stiff rejection on the edge sending his opponent to the floor. Sophomore forward Spencer Schneider (Houston, Texas / Clearbrook) had seven rebounds, all of which came on the defensive end in addition to three assists. The Beavers ultimately turned in a sound defensive showing, becoming the first team this season to hold the Wildcats under 80 points in a win. Srinivasaragavan led in the scoring department with 11 points, while Andrews joined the sophomore in double-figures with 10 points.
Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger and the Beavers will face Division I California Baptist University of the Western Athletic Conference in an exhibition this weekend before returning home to host the University of California Santa Cruz the following weekend after splitting with the Banana Slugs in 2017.
"It's a good thing anytime you're playing good competition," O'Neil said. "We're always looking to go out there and compete as hard as we can, and we'll have to do a better job than we did this game of controlling the pace, especially on the defensive end."