PASADENA, Calif. (Jan. 27, 2015) – Senior Andrew Hogue (Arroyo Grande, Calif. / Arroyo Grande) rediscovered his shooting stroke to post his third double-double of the season as the Caltech men's basketball team staged a second half rally that ultimately fell short against Pomona-Pitzer Colleges on Tuesday night.
The Sagehens, finally at full strength with four regulars returning to action in just the last two weeks and having shocked RV Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Saturday, built on their two-game SCIAC win streak with a 63-55 victory. Pomona-Pitzer improves to 5-12 overall and 3-5 in the SCIAC while Caltech is now 1-16 (0-8).
The Beavers recorded a six-rebound advantage and shot an impressive 85 percent from the free throw line, but suffered from significant deficits in three-point percentage (48-30 percent), turnovers (15-5) and points off turnovers (16-6).
Caltech jumped onto the board first but the Sagehens scored the next 10 points, holding the Beavers scoreless over the next six minutes. The foes traded baskets during the next three minutes before Pomona-Pitzer surged ahead on a 14-2 run to lead 31-11 with just 4:24 on the clock. The Beavers finally started to hit their shots, however, to regain some ground on a 9-5 run that made the halftime score 36-20.
"We got away from executing our game plan in the first half, but we came out of halftime fired up, confident again and on a mission," Head Coach Oliver Eslinger said. "We had an elevated sense of purpose to get physical, move and rebound."
Coming out of the intermission, Hogue drilled a three-pointer, sophomore Ricky Galliani (Menlo Park, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep) converted a three-point play and sophomore Nasser Al-Rayes (Doha, Qatar / American School of Doha) registered a pair of blocks to spark the Beavers to pull within 12 at 38-26 less than four minutes into the second half. Caltech clawed back within single digits at 42-33 on a three-pointer by sophomore David LeBaron (San Diego, Calif. / Francis Parker) with 13:02 on the clock, but Pomona-Pitzer stretched the lead back out to 17 over the next four minutes.
The Beavers were really firing on all cylinders at that point, though, with Galliani scoring three on back-to-back trips to the charity stripe and senior Bryan Joel (Bethesda, Md. / Walt Whitman) hitting a trey to set up junior Kc Emezie (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge) – who had been held scoreless over his first eight shots to that point – for a trademark outburst of six points on three consecutive possessions to bring Caltech within seven at 56-49 with just 4:34 left to play.
A Sagehens three-pointer extended the margin back to double digits, but Hogue came right back with a pair of offensive boards and three-point play on the next trip down the court to bring it back to seven. The veteran would also nail a three on the final possession of the game, but only after a couple Sagehens baskets to cut the final deficit to eight.
"It was an entire team effort and we were happy with our schemes tonight," Eslinger said. "This Pomona-Pitzer team is very good, especially now that they are finally healthy – their record is not at all indicative of their ability. We did a good job holding a very good player in Kyle McAndrews to just five points. We are proud of how we battled back from a lackluster first half and made it a game in the second. Our best half of the year came at a good time, especially as we head into the second part of conference play."
Hogue recorded game highs in both points (18) and rebounds (10) to complete the double-double while shooting 6-of-10 from the field and 2-of-4 from beyond the arc without committing a single turnover. Al-Rayes added six points on 3-of-6 shooting to go with seven rebounds and two assists while maintaining his SCIAC lead in blocks, with another four. LeBaron scored six points on a perfect 2-for-2 from long range and dished out a team-high three assists in just 15 minutes.
"Hogue had a nice stroke going tonight – in fact, we all did in the second half," Eslinger said. "Our guards overall were pretty good, and Nasser did a great job protecting the paint . It was good to see us shoot well and put all the pieces together."
Eslinger and the Beavers will open the second half of conference play at California Lutheran University (11-4, 5-2) on Saturday, Jan. 31 at 4:00 p.m. following the women's matchup.