SALEM, Ore. (Nov. 22, 2014) – Sophomore Nasser Al-Rayes (Doha, Qatar / American School of Doha) broke out with a career-high 16 points and career-high-tying six rebounds over just 20 minutes as the Caltech men's basketball team was unable to hold onto a lead for the second straight game, falling 79-73 at Willamette University.
The Bearcats took advantage of an additional 16 free throw attempts over the Beavers to pick up their first win of the season and are now 1-2, while Caltech falls to 0-3.
Despite yet another pinpoint-shooting day, the Beavers could not overcome the difference free throws played in the game, as Willamette was awarded a whopping 47 of the teams' combined 75 free throw attempts. Caltech struggled with foul trouble as well, with one disqualification and three others finishing with four fouls apiece.
Sophomore Lawrence Lee (Hong Kong / Hong Kong International School) picked right up where he left off after setting a pair of program records the previous night, laying in the first basket of the game. Willamette briefly pulled ahead after three minutes of play, but Lee and junior Kc Emezie (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge) combined to score the Beavers' first 11 points to put Caltech ahead, 11-7.
Willamette managed to tie the game at 14-14 midway through the first half, but back-to-back treys from sophomore Luke Lango (San Diego, Calif. / Pacific Ridge School) and Emezie quickly returned Caltech to a six-point advantage. The Beavers shrugged off multiple challenges by the Bearcats before extending the lead on a 7-1 run to a game-high 10 points at 35-25 with just 1:36 remaining in the half. The Bearcats hit a late three to cut the deficit to seven, but senior Bryan Joel (Bethesda, Md. / Walt Whitman) responded with a trey as well and, after Willamette hit one of two free throws in the final seconds, Caltech carried a nine-point lead into the break.
The Beavers stretched out to a 14-point edge at 50-36 five minutes into the second half, but the Bearcats began to claw back into it the mix. A 16-3 run over the next four minutes all of a sudden saw Willamette trailing by just one with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game. Joel and Al-Rayes gave Caltech some breathing room, but the Beavers could not turn away the hosts. Unable to hit a shot from the field over the final 4:42, the Beavers finally succumbed to the tide as the game-ending 17-6 run proved more than enough for Willamette to take the game.
Emezie led the Beavers with 17 points on a typically efficient 6-of-9 shooting (2-of-2 beyond the arc), while Al-Rayes, Lango and Joel rounded out the double-figure scorers with 16, 11 and 10 points, respectively. Lee turned in a solid all-around line with eight points (six in the opening four minutes), four rebounds and four assists.
Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger and the Beavers will close out their Portland-area weekend trip at Pacific University (0-2) tomorrow, Sunday, Nov. 23. The game will be available online via live video stream and Live stats, both which can be accessed through the team's schedule page at GoCaltech.com.