The University of Redlands men's basketball team battled it out against the visiting Boxers of Pacific University (OR) in a rare Monday afternoon contest in Currier Gym. Despite shooting 54.4% against the up-tempo system of the visitors, the Bulldogs fell short in a 93-98 decision that included nine lead changes, 11 ties, and a pair of career-high scorers.
After trailing 2-3 early in the game, the Maroon and Gray responded with a 14-2 run off of buckets by senior guard Joey Sponheim (Redlands, CA), senior wing Brittian Foster (Long Beach, CA), sophomore guard Michael Hanna (Murrieta, CA), and first-year wing Gary Menary (Grass Valley, CA). As a result, Redlands sat in front by a score of 16-10 about six minutes into the game.
As the Boxers' offense struggled early on, the Bulldogs took full advantage and built their largest lead of the day at 31-16 with 8:50 to go in the first half. Redlands managed Pacific's full-court press to create quality looks at the hoop, with five different players scoring at least two points during this stretch. First-year forward Kameron Wright (Fontana, CA) led the charge with a pair of layups off assists from Hanna and junior guard Thomas Scriven (Anaheim, CA). To cap off the run, Sponheim delivered a dime to sophomore forward Parker Landolf(Alamo, CA) in the lane for the wide-open bucket.
Redlands maintained a 44-35 advantage by the 3:48-mark of the frame with Wright, Landolf, and Sponheim scoring off various assists from Scriven, Hanna, and Menary.
However, the Boxers closed out the final few minutes on a 10-2 run to make it a one-point game by the time the teams headed into the locker rooms for the halftime intermission.
During the second half, Pacific led by a score of 50-48 about 90 seconds into the action, but the Bulldogs quickly responded when Foster drove the lane for the fast-break layup.
As the teams traded buckets, Redlands broke a tie with back-to-back Menary layups to make it 62-58 at the 14:14-mark.
After the Boxers tied it at 66, the high-paced game continued in a back-and-forth manner, with neither squad earning more than a three-point advantage for the next six minutes. Finally, Menary seemed to take things into his own hands by sinking a pair of free throws and knocking down a huge three-pointer off Sponheim's pass to push Redlands to an 86-81 advantage with about six minutes to go.
However, Pacific caught fire at just the right time and orchestrated a 15-2 run that was aided by Redlands' multiple turnovers.
Now trailing 88-96, the Bulldogs looked to Sponheim for a critical trey-ball before Landolf converted both free-throws to keep the Maroon and Gray within striking distance. Nonetheless, the home team's final attempts to tie it up would not fall, leaving Redlands on the short end of a 93-98 final.
Wright came off the bench for a career-high 23 points on 11-for-14 shooting to go along with seven rebounds. Landolf also provided the most points in his young career at 19. Sponheim knocked down five three-pointers en route to 18 points and added eight assists and five rebounds. Menary supplied 13 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double. He also dished out five assists.
Redlands (6-4) heads to Cal State San Bernardino for an exhibition contest on Sunday, December 30, at 3 p.m.