PASADENA (Jan. 13, 2018) – The Caltech men's basketball team set a historic pace from beyond the arc, converting on 16 three-pointers en route to a 96-86 overtime victory over the University of La Verne on Saturday evening. The Beavers have won two of their last three meetings with the Leopards.
Freshman guard Marcus Gee (Santa Monica, Calif. / Santa Monica) and sophomore guard Alec Andrews (Folsom, Calif. / Folsom) lit up the scoreboard with big shots from deep after the young Beavers faced some adversity early in the game. Andrews' 14 first-half points helped dig the Beavers out of a 19-12 hole before Gee took over from the second-half on. The backcourt duo played the entire second-half and finished the game with 11-combined three-pointers between them. Caltech's performance from deep is magnified by its November game against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where they tied the program record for single-game three's with 12, before breaking the record at Whittier the following month with 14 three's. They broke the record one more time on Saturday against a winless, though hungry La Verne squad.
Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger did not believe, however that there was any added pressure to secure the win with his team entering the game on a short SCIAC skid.
"I don't think we felt any pressure tonight," Eslinger said. "We were actually excited to be back home after a really tough opening schedule in the conference and because it was Alumni Day. We had a really good alumni game earlier in the day with really good energy and I think it carried over. Obviously, our guys want to perform well in front of the alumni but we weren't too concerned at any point."
Gee ended up finishing the game with a career-high 29 points while Andrews also posted a career-best 25 points and 10 assists to record his first ever double-double with assists. The home team saw contributions from up and down the lineup, however, as sophomore forward Ross Carter (Sudbury, Mass. / The Rivers School) put together one of the best games of his career, scoring 11 points to go with six rebounds. He also contributed heavily towards the Beavers' 16 three-pointers in addition to their overall percentage. Carter went two-for-two from the perimeter as Caltech shot a season-best 59 percent from three. Freshman forward Spencer Schneider (Houston, Texas / Clearbrook) also knocked down two three's and sophomore guard Bret Johnson (Carlsbad, Calif. / Santa Fe Christian) came off the bench to provide his team with a 12-point spark between the second half and overtime.
"I was really proud of how our guys were able to execute in the half-court when it was a one or two possession game," Eslinger said. "A lot of times we were able to work the shot clock down and get some good opportunities to finish so I think we took a big step tonight in being able to execute in those situations.
"We're a team that definitely gets contributions from everybody. We prepared for this game the right way and it takes all 10 active players to be able to do that."
The Leopards made life hard on the Beavers late in the second half when they worked their way back into the game and hit a buzzer-beater three-pointer to force overtime. As deflating as the moment could have been, Caltech remained upbeat and ramped up the defensive pressure to force La Verne into making mistakes and having to foul Caltech players to limit opportunities. The Beavers took 16 free throws in the five-minute overtime period, more than they have in the entirety of any other SCIAC game they have played all season. The players responded by shooting their season average 60-percent from the line, which ended up being enough to help the hosts to a 10-point conference victory to move to 2-4 in SCIAC play.
"I told the guys, 'I can't believe he made that shot, but he made a great shot,'" Eslinger said. "I took a drink of water, came back and told them, 'Let's play some more basketball.' We came out, claimed some momentum and I think the 16 free throws in over time was huge. We stepped up our defense too, so I'm just glad we were able to take this next step and execute some of our sets and defensive principles and come out on top."
Eslinger and the Beavers will look to make it two SCIAC wins in a row when they host California Lutheran University (2-4 SCIAC) at 7 p.m. this Wednesday.