PASADENA, Calif. (Jan. 17, 2015) – Senior Andrew Hogue (Arroyo Grande, Calif. / Arroyo Grande) left every bit of his four years of experience and determination on the court to lead the Caltech men's basketball team's upset bid against undefeated No. 20 Chapman University on Saturday night.
Caltech trailed by only six at halftime, pulled within two points early in the second half and had a late charge repelled in the attempt to topple the SCIAC leaders. The Beavers won the battle on the boards (27-25), earned double the Panthers' second-chance points (8-4) and nearly matched the visitors on points in the paint (26-28), but Chapman's red-hot shooting (56 percent from the field, 40 percent beyond the arc) and 11 extra free throws made the difference as the Panthers remained perfect at 14-0 overall and 5-0 in the SCIAC, while the Beavers are now 1-13 (0-5).
"Our effort was top-notch tonight," Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger beamed. "We played together and focused on every possession. Guys made plays they needed to and spectacular ones that gave our alumni supporters in attendance a real sense of pride. It was a great day all around with our alumni event and a quality basketball game to end the night."
The Panthers scored the first four points of the game on their first two possessions, but senior Bryan Joel (Bethesda, Md. / Walt Whitman) served early notice that the Beavers were not about to be run out of the gym, nailing a three-pointer on an assist by Hogue late in the shot clock. Chapman scored six straight points to pull ahead at 10-3, but once again a Caltech player made a statement as Hogue found sophomore Nasser Al-Rayes (Doha, Qatar / American School of Doha) for a huge dunk through traffic.
Misfortune struck Caltech quickly as Al-Rayes was whistled for two fouls on the same possession, and just like that the Beavers' big man was stuck on the bench for the remainder of the half. Chapman held at least a two-basket lead straight through halftime, but the Beavers went down by double digits only once before sophomore Ricky Galliani (Menlo Park, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep) kickstarted a 7-2 run with a three-pointer and capped it with a layup to pull back with six, which would be the margin at halftime (35-29).
"The balance and grit was great to see," Eslinger said. "I can't say enough about the effort and leadership of Joel and Hogue. Those guys are warriors and imparting a lot on this young team."
Chapman picked up the first two points of the second half, but Hogue reeled off five unanswered points on a three-point play and offensive rebound to all of a sudden make it a two-point game at 36-34 with 17:57 remaining. Chapman tried to separate again but Caltech would have none of it, as Al-Rayes earned a three-point chance before junior Kc Emezie (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge) and Hogue hit back-to-back baskets to stay within four points at 44-40 with 15:37 left to play.
The Panthers finally found some breathing room with five unanswered points to go up by nine, but Caltech slowly climbed back into the mix. Galliani notched five points on consecutive possessions and Emezie punctuated the comeback bid with a big dunk on the fast break to cut the margin to six at 64-58 with 52 seconds remaining. Despite holding the Panthers without a basket over the final four minutes, however, Caltech would not come any closer as the Beavers could not muster anything on offense down the stretch, finally bowing out by a final score of 67-58.
Hogue led the Beavers with 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists, while Galliani recorded 11 points on an efficient 4-of-6 shooting (2-of-3 on three-pointers). Sophomore Lawrence Lee (Hong Kong / Hong Kong International School) contributed some big minutes with Al-Rayes on the bench, scoring six points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out two assists in just 15 minutes, while sophomore David LeBaron (San Diego, Calif. / Francis Parker) and freshman Ty Ochse (Tucson, Ariz. / Canyon Del Oro) combined for seven points on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting over 24 minutes, with LeBaron adding three assists.
"We had various lineups step up throughout the game," Eslinger said. "Ricky made some tremendous plays, Nasser had a monster jam and Kc kept us and the crowd in it late with his blocked shot and dunk. Ty hit his first career three, Nick Buoniconti gave us some toughness when we really needed it and Lawrence was an emerging presence."
Eslinger and the Beavers will reignite the 110 Freeway Rivalry on the road with the second of three games against Occidental College (7-6, 3-2) on Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m.